Below is the first case report of fulminant hepatitis owing to echovirus 25 in an MSers on ocrelizumab.
Please note continuous anti-CD20 therapy takes out your B-cells and prevents you from forming germinal centres (where B-cells get educated to make antibodies, i.e. the B-cell’s Universities) in lymph nodes and the spleen. In other words, ocrelizumab treatment causes functional splenectomy. The latter causes a scotoma, or blind spot, in your immune system which means you can’t mount a vigorous immune response to new infectious agents or vaccines. In reality, your immune responses are muted.
This echovirus infection on ocrelizumab is a known-unknown; severe enteroviral infections have previously been reported after B-cell depletion, mainly in patients with haematological conditions. Meningoencephalitis is the most common manifestation, but there have been 3 other cases of fulminant hepatitis reported.
This case is a warning to be careful about infections on ocrelizumab. I predict that both the FDA and EMA will both have their say in relation to ocrelizumab’s adverse event profile in the future; maybe even an article 20 moment. The facts that (1) the clinical development programme of ocrelizumab was stopped in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus because of infections, (2) that there is a herpes zoster signal on ocrelizumab, (3) there is blunted vaccine response, in particular to pneumococcus, and (4) ocrelizumab reduces immunoglobulin levels tells us there will be, or there are, infectious complications on ocrelizumab.
So if you are on ocrelizumab please be vigilant and take care.
Nicolini et al. Fulminant Hepatitis Associated With Echovirus 25 During Treatment With Ocrelizumab for Multiple Sclerosis. JAMA Neurol. 2019 Apr 8. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.0522.
….. A 44-year-old woman with RRMS received 600 mg of ocrelizumab intravenously every 24 weeks for 4.5 years as part of the OPERA II trial….
….. In July 2017, the patient and a person in close contact with her developed watery diarrhea. While the other person recovered quickly, the patient reported persistent febrile diarrhea (2 to 4 episodes/day) associated with a self-limiting maculopapular rash. For fever control, patient took 1000 mg of acetaminophen per day for 10 days. Two weeks thereafter, she was hospitalized. Blood tests showed increased alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase levels (1847 and 2484 U/L, respectively; to convert either value to microkatals per liter, multiply by 0.0167), without cholestasis……
….. after admission, alanine and aspartate aminotransferase levels peaked to 6241 U/L and 9799 U/L, respectively, with increased bilirubin (total, 4 mg/dL; direct, 2.9 mg/dL; to convert either value to micromoles per liter, multiply by 17.104) and signs of coagulopathy (prothrombin time, 24%; international normalized ratio, 2.95). Owing to progression to liver failure, she received a liver transplant 11 days after admission……
….. In the patient’s native liver tissue, an HBV DNA test result was negative, while a test result for enterovirus RNA was positive. A phylogenetic analysis revealed that both serum and native liver samples harbored echovirus 25…..
….. ocrelizumab was permanently withdrawn, the patient did not show signs of MS activity or disability progression, possibly owing to the immunosuppressive effects of basiliximab and tacrolimus, which were given to prevent liver rejection…..