Case report| Volume 37, 101442, January 2020

Initiation of rituximab therapy for new onset neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder during pregnancy

Published:October 13, 2019DOI:


      • NMO is characterized by severe relapses of optic neuritis and transverse myelitis.
      • A 35 year old pregnant woman presented to us with her first NMO attack.
      • She was treated with IV steroids, PLEX, and rituximab during her pregnancy.
      • She delivered at term without any apparent teratogenic effects on the baby.
      • This case adds to the few existing reports of giving rituximab during pregnancy.



      Aquaporin-4 IgG (AQ4-IgG)-neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) is an autoimmune inflammatory CNS disease that is predominantly characterized by severe relapses of optic neuritis and longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis (LETM). Women are disproportionately affected by AQ4-NMOSD, usually with disease onset occurring between the ages of 35–45. This has significant implications during pregnancy, as disease activity in NMOSD does not remit during gestation. The optimal treatment of NMOSD during pregnancy has not been established.


      Case report.


      A 35-year old woman, 10 weeks pregnant, presented with bilateral optic neuritis and intractable hiccups. Workup revealed seropositive aquaporin-4 IgG. She was treated with pulse intravenous methylprednisolone and plasma exchange. Because of high risk for future relapse, Rituximab 1000 mg was given at weeks 15 and 17 of pregnancy. She had no further relapses during pregnancy. She delivered her daughter at 39 weeks without complication.


      This case demonstrated a favorable outcome in administering rituximab for NMOSD with disease onset during pregnancy. This description of therapy for disease onset during pregnancy is novel, and adds to the few existing case reports of administering rituximab during pregnancy.


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