Autoantibody Reduction for Acute Exacerbations of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Study Purpose

Acute exacerbations (AE) are a dreaded manifestation of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) that presents with rapidly worsening respiratory function over days to weeks. AE account for about 1/2 the deaths in IPF patients, and are refractory to all medical therapies attempted to date. Considerable preliminary data shows pathological B-cell abnormalities and autoantibodies are present in AE-IPF and associated with disease severity. The experimental therapy here (therapeutic plasma exchange plus rituximab plus intravenous immunoglobulin) is mechanistically targeted to ameliorate autoantibody-mediated pulmonary injury. Anecdotal pilot studies indicate these treatments have significant benefit for a disease syndrome that has, until now, been almost invariably inexorable. This clinical trial has the potential to profoundly affect current paradigms and treatment approaches to patients with AE-IPF.

Recruitment Criteria

Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Healthy volunteers are participants who do not have a disease or condition, or related conditions or symptoms

Study Type

An interventional clinical study is where participants are assigned to receive one or more interventions (or no intervention) so that researchers can evaluate the effects of the interventions on biomedical or health-related outcomes.

An observational clinical study is where participants identified as belonging to study groups are assessed for biomedical or health outcomes.

Searching Both is inclusive of interventional and observational studies.

Eligible Ages 40 Years - 85 Years
Gender All
More Inclusion & Exclusion Criteria

Inclusion Criteria:

1. Age between 40-85 years old. 2. A diagnosis of IPF that fulfills ATS/ERS Consensus Criteria.1 3. Worsening or new development of dyspnea or hypoxemia within the last 30 days. 4. Ground-glass abnormality and/or consolidation superimposed on a reticular or honeycomb usual interstitial pneumonitis (UIP) pattern on locally read chest CT scan. 5. Ability and willingness to give informed consent (no surrogates) and adhere to study requirements.

Exclusion Criteria:

1. Diagnoses of current infection per clinical or microbial assessments. 2. Diagnoses of an additional or alternative etiology for respiratory dysfunction based upon clinical assessment, including congestive heart failure, sepsis, thromboembolism, etc. 3. History or serologic evidence of hepatitis B or C infection. 4. Coagulopathy, defined as a International Normalized Ratio (INR) >1.6, partial thromboplastin time (PTT) > 2x control, fibrinogen <100 mg/dL, or platelet count <50 thousand (K) unless these abnormalities can be reversed safely. 5. Hyperosmolar state or diabetic ketoacidosis to suggest uncontrolled diabetes, or uncontrolled hypertension (systolic BP >160 mm Hg and diastolic BP >100 mm Hg) that would contraindicate use of corticosteroids. 6. Hemodynamic instability, defined as an inotrope or vasopressor requirement. 7. History of reaction to blood products or murine-derived products or prior rituximab use. 8. History of malignancy, excluding basal or squamous cell skin cancer and low-risk prostate cancer, the latter defined as stage T1 or T2a, with prostate specific antigen (PSA) less than 10 ng/dl. The experimental treatments are not known to promote cancer progression, and these criteria are within current guidelines. 9. Unwillingness to accept blood product transfusion. 10. Diagnosis of major comorbidities expected to interfere with study participation. 11. Treatment for >14 days within the preceding month with >20 mg. prednisone (or equivalent) or any treatment during the last month with a cellular immuno-suppressant (e.g., cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, calcineurin inhibitors, mycophenolate, azathioprine, etc.). An exception will be made if the patient has a bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) negative for pathogens. 12. Current treatment with an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor that cannot be discontinued and/or substituted (to obviate hemodynamic complications during TPE). 13. Concurrent participation in other experimental trials. 14. Fertile females who do not agree to contraception or abstinence, or have a positive pregnancy test (urine or blood). IPF is a disease of older adults, and male predominant, so this will not be a frequent consideration. 15. Presence of positive (abnormal) classical autoimmune tests: anti-nuclear antibody (ANA), rheumatoid factor (RF), Anti- Sjögren's-syndrome-related antigen (SSA) , and Anti-Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide (CCP). This criterion will eliminate patients with confounding classical autoimmune syndromes. Many IPF patients will have already had these tests, which are standard of practice (SOP) at many IPF centers, and these prior results will suffice if the tests were performed within the last year. Otherwise, these tests need to be performed prior to enrollment and they can usually be procured in 1-2 days. Based on experience, we anticipate ~10% of patients who fulfill all other IPF criteria will nonetheless be positive for one of these classical autoantibody tests. 16. IgA deficiency (IgA level <7 mg/dL)- to preclude IVIG reactions.

Trial Details

Trial ID:

This trial id was obtained from, a service of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, providing information on publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants with locations in all 50 States and in 196 countries.


Phase 1: Studies that emphasize safety and how the drug is metabolized and excreted in humans.

Phase 2: Studies that gather preliminary data on effectiveness (whether the drug works in people who have a certain disease or condition) and additional safety data.

Phase 3: Studies that gather more information about safety and effectiveness by studying different populations and different dosages and by using the drug in combination with other drugs.

Phase 4: Studies occurring after FDA has approved a drug for marketing, efficacy, or optimal use.

Phase 2
Lead Sponsor

The sponsor is the organization or person who oversees the clinical study and is responsible for analyzing the study data.

University of Alabama at Birmingham
Principal Investigator

The person who is responsible for the scientific and technical direction of the entire clinical study.

Principal Investigator Affiliation N/A
Agency Class

Category of organization(s) involved as sponsor (and collaborator) supporting the trial.

Overall Status Recruiting
Countries United States

The disease, disorder, syndrome, illness, or injury that is being studied.

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, Acute Fatal Form
Additional Details

The primary goal of clinical trial is to determine effects of combined therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE), rituximab, and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) in comparison to effects of treatment as usual (TAU), among AE-IPF patients. Our central hypothesis is "AUTOANTIBODY REDUCTION IS BENEFICIAL FOR AE-IPF PATIENTS." A corollary of this hypothesis is that antibody-mediated autoimmunity can play an important role in IPF exacerbations. Following baseline screening assessments, hospitalized AE-IPF patients at the collaborating sites that meet all inclusion/exclusion criteria will be randomly assigned to receive one of the following treatments in a ratio of 2:1: • Arm A (n=34)

  • - Experimental Treatment: Steroids: Prednisone 60 mg (p.
o.) on day 1, followed by 20 mg/day on days 2-5, 7-14, and 16-19 (or the i.v. methylprednisolone equivalent). Methyl-prednisolone 100 mg i.v. will be administered on days 6 and 15, as a premedication prior to the rituximab. Insertion of a dialysis/apheresis catheter into a central vein, and initiation of therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE), rituximab, and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) regimens: Therapeutic Plasma Exchange (TPE) will consist of 1x estimated plasma volume exchanges for 3 successive days (1-3) and then, after a one day interval to enable equilibration of autoantibodies between intra- and extra-vascular spaces, again on days 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, and 15. Rituximab: One gm i.v. will be administered on day 6 and day 15 after completion of the TPE on those days. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG): 0.5 gm/kg/day i.v. on days 16-19 • Arm B (n=17)
  • - Treatment as Usual (TAU): The same steroid regimen as described for Arm A, i.e., prednisone 60 mg (p.
o.) on day 1, followed by 20 mg/day on days 2-5, 7-14, and 16-19 (or the i.v. methylprednisolone equivalent), and methylprednisolone 100 mg i.v. administered on days 6 and 15. All patients enrolled in both cohorts at all sites will also receive empiric broad-spectrum antibiotics for 8 days. The empiric antibiotic regimen will be reassessed and tailored based on any subsequent cultures and sensitivity results. Patients will be monitored carefully for occurrences of adverse events, laboratory test abnormalities, and changes in vital signs. The respective treatment courses can be finished on an outpatient basis among enrolled patients who are able to be discharged from the hospital, if medically indicated, and if those treatment compliance can be assured. Patients will be followed for the duration of their hospital admission after enrollment, and then observed as either inpatients or outpatients on days 19, 60, 90, 180, 270, and 365. A telephone contact will occur at monthly intervals, aside from those visits above. The total observation/subject is 365 days.

Contact a Trial Team

If you are interested in learning more about this trial, find the trial site nearest to your location and contact the site coordinator via email or phone. We also strongly recommend that you consult with your healthcare provider about the trials that may interest you and refer to our terms of service below.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania




University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15213

Site Contact

Daniel J Kass, MD


Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania




Temple University Hospital

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19140

Site Contact

Gerard J Criner, MD


Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts




Brigham and Women's Hospital

Boston, Massachusetts, 02115

Site Contact

Ivan Rosas, MD


University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama




University of Alabama at Birmingham

Birmingham, Alabama, 35233

Site Contact

Steve Duncan, MD


Terms of Service

The PFF does not promote or represent that any investigational new drugs mentioned are safe or effective. The content provided on clinical trials is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical consultation with your healthcare provider. We do not recommend or endorse any specific study and you are advised to discuss the information shown with your healthcare provider. While we believe the information presented on this website to be accurate at the time of writing, we do not guarantee that its contents are correct, complete, or applicable to any particular individual situation. We strongly encourage individuals to seek out appropriate medical advice and treatment from their physicians. We cannot guarantee the availability of any clinical trial listed and will not be responsible if you are considered ineligible to participate in a given clinical trial. We are also not liable for any injury arising as a result of participation. The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. For a full description of terms please refer to our Terms, Conditions & Privacy.

Back to Top
footer_txt_bblBook a PFF Ambassador for your event.   Call 844.TalkPFF >