Remission is the established goal in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment. Although originally defined by a disease activity score in 28 joints (DAS28) <2.6, more stringent criteria may imply the absence of disease activity. The 2011 ACR/EULAR remission criteria provide the newest and most stringent definition of remission.
To evaluate post hoc the remission by ACR/EULAR criteria and compare the criteria with the conventional DAS28 in TAMARA, an open-label phase IIIb tocilizumab (TCZ) trial including patients with active RA receiving inadequate disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) inhibitor treatment.
286 patients were enrolled, 99.7% of patients were receiving a conventional DMARD and 41.6% had TNFα inhibitor pretreatment. Baseline mean DAS28 of 6.0 ± 1.0 fell to 2.6 ± 1.5 at week 24. DAS28 <2.6 was achieved by 47.6% at week 24. Remission rates with the new ACR/EULAR Boolean-based criteria for clinical studies were 15.0% after 12 weeks and 20.3% after 24 weeks. Of note, 13.5% of patients with previous TNFα blocker inadequate response still achieved remission according to the new ACR/EULAR criteria after 24 weeks. Clinical Disease Activity Index and Simplified Disease Activity Index remission rates were 24.1% and 25.2%, respectively.
Under the definition of the new stringent 2011 ACR/EULAR remission criteria, patients with active RA despite DMARD treatment and even after inadequate response to TNFα inhibitors, receiving TCZ showed significant rates of remission. Similar remission rates were achieved, when clinical practice criteria, not inclusive of acute phase reactants, were used.
To evaluate the safety and efficacy of tocilizumab in clinical practice in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with inadequate responses (IR) to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or both DMARDs and tumour necrosis factor α inhibitors (TNFis).
Patients—categorised as TNFi-naive, TNFi-previous (washout) or TNFi-recent (no washout) —received open-label tocilizumab (8 mg/kg) every 4 weeks ± DMARDs for 24 weeks. Adverse events (AEs) and treatment discontinuations were monitored. Efficacy end points included American College of Rheumatology (ACR) responses, 28-joint disease activity score (DAS28) and European League Against Rheumatism responses.
Overall, 1681 (976 TNF-naive, 298 TNFi-previous and 407 TNFi-recent) patients were treated; 5.1% discontinued treatment because of AEs. The AE rate was numerically higher in TNFi-recent (652.6/100 patient-years (PY)) and TNFi-previous (653.6/100PY) than in TNFi-naive (551.1/100PY) patients. Serious AE rates were 18.0/100PY, 28.0/100PY and 18.6/100PY; serious infection rates were 6.0/100PY, 6.8/100PY and 4.2/100PY, respectively. At week 4, 36.5% of patients achieved ACR20 response and 14.9% DAS28 remission (<2.6); at week 24, 66.9%, 46.6%, 26.4% and 56.8% achieved ACR20/ACR50/ACR70 responses and DAS28 remission, respectively. Overall, 61.6% (TNFi-naive), 48.5% (TNFi-previous) and 50.4% (TNFi-recent) patients achieved DAS28 remission.
In patients with RA who were DMARD-IR/TNFi-IR, tocilizumab ± DMARDs provided rapid and sustained efficacy without unexpected safety concerns.
The anti-interleukin (IL) 6 receptor antibody tocilizumab inhibits signalling of IL6, a key cytokine in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pathogenesis.
To evaluate through the AMBITION study the efficacy and safety of tocilizumab monotherapy versus methotrexate in patients with active RA for whom previous treatment with methotrexate/biological agents had not failed.
This 24-week, double-blind, double-dummy, parallel-group study, randomised 673 patients to either tocilizumab 8 mg/kg every 4 weeks, or methotrexate, starting at 7.5 mg/week and titrated to 20 mg/week within 8 weeks, or placebo for 8 weeks followed by tocilizumab 8 mg/kg. The primary end point was the proportion of patients achieving American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 20 response at week 24.
The intention-to-treat analysis demonstrated that tocilizumab was better than methotrexate treatment with a higher ACR20 response (69.9 vs 52.5%; p<0.001), and 28-joint Disease Activity Score (DAS28) <2.6 rate (33.6 vs 12.1%) at week 24. Mean high-sensitivity C-reactive protein was within the normal range from week 12 with tocilizumab, whereas levels remained elevated with methotrexate. The incidence of serious adverse events with tocilizumab was 3.8% versus 2.8% with methotrexate (p = 0.50), and of serious infections, 1.4% versus 0.7%, respectively. There was a higher incidence of reversible grade 3 neutropenia (3.1% vs 0.4%) and increased total cholesterol ⩾240 mg/dl (13.2% vs 0.4%), and a lower incidence of alanine aminotransferase elevations >3×–<5× upper limit of normal (1.0% vs 2.5%), respectively.
Tocilizumab monotherapy is better than methotrexate monotherapy, with rapid improvement in RA signs and symptoms, and a favourable benefit–risk, in patients for whom treatment with methotrexate or biological agents has not previously failed.
Trial registration number:
We investigated the clinical efficacy and safety of tocilizumab (a humanized anti-IL-6 receptor antibody) monotherapy in active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with an inadequate response to low dose methotrexate (MTX). In a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, 125 patients were allocated to receive either tocilizumab 8 mg/kg every 4 weeks plus MTX placebo (tocilizumab group) or tocilizumab placebo plus MTX 8 mg/week (control group) for 24 weeks. The clinical responses were measured using the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria and the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints. Serum vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) levels were also monitored. At week 24, 25.0% in the control group and 80.3% in the tocilizumab group achieved ACR20 response. The tocilizumab group showed superior ACR response criteria over control at all time points. Additionally, serum VEGF levels were significantly decreased by tocilizumab treatment. The overall incidences of adverse events (AEs) were 72 and 92% (serious AEs: 4.7 and 6.6%; serious infections: 1.6 and 3.3%) in the control and the tocilizumab groups, respectively. All serious adverse events improved by adequate treatment. Tocilizumab monotherapy was well tolerated and provided an excellent clinical benefit in active RA patients with an inadequate response to low dose MTX.
Clinical trial; Interleukin-6; Rheumatoid arthritis; Tocilizumab; Vascular endothelial growth factor
To understand the acute phase responses to surgical intervention in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treated with the anti-interleukin (IL)6 receptor antibody, tocilizumab.
In a retrospective 1:1 pair-matched case-control study, 22 tocilizumab-treated RA cases and 22 cases treated with conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and matched for type of surgery, age and sex were evaluated for body temperature every day, and blood C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and white blood cell (WBC), neutrophil and lymphocyte counts on days −1, 1, 3 and weeks 1 and 2 after joint surgery. Safety issues were also monitored.
No complications of infection or delay of wound healing occurred in either patient group. Tocilizumab partially, but significantly, suppressed the increase in body temperature on postoperative days 1 and 2, compared with DMARDs (average (SD) maximum increase in temperature was 0.45 (0.1)°C in the tocilizumab group and 0.78 (0.1)°C in the DMARD group; p<0.01). Tocilizumab completely suppressed the increase in CRP after surgery, whereas all cases treated with DMARDs showed a significant increase of CRP at postoperative day 1 (5.5 (0.6) mg/dl; p<0.001). WBC, neutrophil and lymphocyte counts showed no remarkable change after surgery, and there was no significant difference in any cell counts between the patient groups.
Within this small number of cases, safe operations on patients were performed during tocilizumab treatment. Tocilizumab suppressed fever and increase of CRP after surgery, whereas there was no influence on the transition in number of leukocytes. This characteristic postoperative response should be considered during tocilizumab treatment.
To evaluate the safety and efficacy of 5-year, long-term tocilizumab monotherapy for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
In an open-label, long-term extension trial following an initial 3-month randomised phase II trial, 143 of the 163 patients who participated in the initial blinded study received tocilizumab monotherapy (8 mg/kg) every 4 weeks. Concomitant therapy with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and/or oral prednisolone (10 mg daily maximum) was permitted. All patients were evaluated with American College of Rheumatology (ACR) improvement criteria, disease activity score (DAS) in 28 joints, and the European League Against Rheumatism response, as well as for safety issues.
143 patients were enrolled in the open-label, long-term extension trial and 94 (66%) patients had completed 5 years as of March 2007. 32 patients (22%) withdrew from the study due to adverse events and one patient (0.7%) due to unsatisfactory response. 14 patients withdrew because of the patient’s request or other reasons. The serious adverse event rate was 27.5 events per 100 patient-years, with 5.7 serious infections per 100 patient-years, based on a total tocilizumab exposure of 612 patient-years. Of the 88 patients receiving corticosteroids at baseline, 78 (88.6%) were able to decrease their corticosteroid dose and 28 (31.8%) discontinued corticosteroids. At 5 years, 79/94 (84.0%), 65/94 (69.1%) and 41/94 (43.6%) of the patients achieved ACR20, ACR50, and ACR70 improvement criteria, respectively. Remission defined as DAS28 less than 2.6 was achieved in 52/94 (55.3%) of the patients.
In this 5-year extension study, tocilizumab demonstrated sustained long-term efficacy and a generally good safety profile.
To evaluate the safety and effectiveness of adalimumab alone or in combination with standard disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Patients with active RA despite treatment with DMARDs or prior treatment with a tumour necrosis factor antagonist participated in a multicentre, open‐label clinical study of adalimumab 40 mg every other week for 12 weeks with an optional extension phase. Patients were allowed to continue with pre‐existing traditional DMARDs. Long‐term safety results are reported for all patients (4210 patient‐years (PYs) of adalimumab exposure). The observed effectiveness results at week 12 are reported using American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria.
Among the 6610 treated patients, adalimumab was generally well tolerated. Serious infections occurred in 3.1% of patients (5.5/100 PYs, including active tuberculosis, 0.5/100 PYs). Demyelinating disease (0.06%) and systemic lupus erythematosus (0.03%) were rare serious adverse events. The standardised incidence ratio of malignancy was 0.71 (95% CI 0.49 to 1.01). The standardised mortality ratio was 1.07 (95% CI 0.75 to 1.49). At week 12, 69% of patients achieved an ACR20 response, 83% a moderate, and 33% a good EULAR response. Adalimumab was effective in combination with a variety of DMARDs. The addition of adalimumab to antimalarials was comparably effective to the combination of adalimumab and methotrexate.
Considering the limitations of an open‐label study, adalimumab alone or in combination with standard DMARDs appeared to be well tolerated and effective in 6610 difficult‐to‐treat patients with active RA treated in clinical practice.
adalimumab; rheumatoid arthritis; tumour necrosis factor; monoclonal antibody; antirheumatic agents
Constitutively overproduced in proliferating synovial tissues, interleukin-6 (IL-6) is deeply involved in the pathology of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Tocilizumab is a humanized anti-human IL-6 receptor antibody that binds to soluble and membrane-bound IL-6 receptor, and at detectable levels in blood, tocilizumab is capable of almost completely blocking the transmembrane signaling of IL-6. In clinical trials for patients with RA in Japan, tocilizumab monotherapy has shown clinical efficacy equaling that of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor in combination with methotrexate, and in an extension study in patients who responded to tocilizumab, almost no patients showed a decrease in the efficacy of tocilizumab. Evidence obtained in a phase III study in Japan demonstrated that tocilizumab monotherapy had a sig-nificant inhibitory effect on the progression of structural joint damage compared with that of conventional disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Furthermore it has been shown that tocilizumab has an excellent ability to suppress serum amyloid A levels and could therefore be an important therapeutic strategy in amyloid A amyloidosis secondary to rheumatic diseases. The safety profile of tocilizumab appears to be satisfactory. However, several serious infections were also reported, and careful monitoring is therefore important during use.
tocilizumab; rheumatoid arthritis; interleukin-6; treatment; amyloidosis; biologics
Suppression of the immunoinflammatory cascade by targeting interleukin 6 (IL-6) mediated effects constitutes a therapeutic option for chronic inflammatory diseases. Tocilizumab is the only IL-6 inhibitor (IL-6i) licensed for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), but also other agents targeting either IL-6 or its receptor are investigated in various indications.
To review published evidence on safety and efficacy of IL-6i in inflammatory diseases.
We performed systematic literature searches in Medline and Cochrane, screened EULAR and American College of Rheumatology meeting-abstracts, and accessed http://www.clinicaltrials.gov.
Comprehensive evidence supports the efficacy of tocilizumab in RA in DMARD-naïve patients, and after DMARD- and TNFi-failure. Randomised comparisons demonstrate superiority of tocilizumab in JIA, but not ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Other indications are currently investigated. Additional IL-6i show similar efficacy; safety generally appears acceptable.
IL-6i is effective and safe in RA and JIA, but not in AS. Preliminary results in other indications need substantiation.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis; Treatment; DMARDs (biologic)
Tocilizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody to the interleukin 6 (IL-6) receptor, was approved for use as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) therapy in Japan in 2008, but its efficacy and tolerability in daily practice has not yet been reported. We report the results of a multicenter retrospective study on the efficacy and safety of tocilizumab involving all patients (n = 229) who were started on tocilizumab therapy at three rheumatology institutes in Japan from April 2008 through to March 2009. Tocilizumab was infused every 4 weeks at a dose of 8 mg/kg according to the drug labeling. Among the 229 patients, 55% concomitantly received methotrexate (MTX) and 63% had previously received anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapy. Average disease activity score (DAS) 28 of all 229 patients significantly decreased from 5.70 to 3.25 after 24 weeks of therapy. A European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) good response and DAS28 remission was achieved in 57.4 and 40.7% of the patients, respectively, at 24 weeks. White blood cell counts significantly decreased and liver enzymes and total cholesterol slightly but significantly increased; however, liver enzyme levels did not increase in patients without MTX. Tocilizumab was discontinued in 47 cases (20.5%) due to lack of efficacy (5.2%), adverse events (11.4%), and other reasons (3.9%). The overall retention rate at 24 weeks was 79.5%. Based on these results, we conclude that tocilizumab therapy in daily rheumatology practice appears to be highly efficacious and well tolerated among active RA patients, including the anti-TNF therapy-refractory population. Tocilizumab infusion is therefore applicable not only as an alternative approach for anti-TNF therapy-resistant patients, but also as primary biologic therapy for active RA patients.
Rheumatoid arthritis; Tocilizumab; IL-6; Remission; Retrospective study
Tocilizumab (TCZ; RoActemra® or Actemra®) is a recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody that acts as an interleukin 6 (IL-6) receptor antagonist. For rheumatoid arthritis (RA), intravenous (IV) TCZ 8 mg/kg every 4 weeks has been approved since 2008 in Japan (where it is also approved for polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, systemic-onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis and Castleman's disease), and since 2009 in Europe in combination with methotrexate (MTX) for the treatment of moderate to severe active RA in adult patients with inadequate response to, or intolerance of, disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) or tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonist therapy. It may also be administered as monotherapy in the same dose regimen in patients with methotrexate intolerance or with inadequate response to MTX. Since January 2011 in the United States, the indication for treatment with TCZ for RA patients with an inadequate response to one or more TNF antagonists was extended to patients with moderately to severely active RA, and the recommended starting dose is 4 mg/kg every 4 weeks, with an increase to 8 mg/kg based on clinical response. All of these approvals are based on the effectiveness and safety of the 8 mg/kg dose regimen when administered either as monotherapy or in combination with conventional DMARDs in well-designed clinical studies in adult patients with moderate to severe RA. TCZ at this dose is more effective than placebo, MTX or other DMARDs in reducing disease activity and improving health-related quality of life (HR-QoL). Although there were fewer responses with the 4 mg/kg dose, this dose every 4 weeks was not statistically different to 8 mg/kg when administered in combination with MTX, and this dose is the recommended starting dose in the US. Both doses have also been shown to inhibit structural joint damage in patients with an inadequate response to MTX. Thus, TCZ is an important new treatment option in patients with moderate to severe RA.
interleukin 6; monoclonal antibody; rheumatoid arthritis; tocilizumab
Tocilizumab is a monoclonal humanized anti-IL-6-receptor antibody used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The safety of tocilizumab in HCV patients is an open question. We report on safety and efficacy of tocilizumab in a 71-year-old female with rheumatoid arthritis and chronic hepatitis C. Monotherapy with tocilizumab (8 mg/kg every 4 weeks, i.v.) was prescribed after the discontinuation, determined by clinical inefficacy, of anti-TNF-alfa agents (adalimumab and, subsequently, etanercept). We have registered an optimal and rapid clinical response to tocilizumab with early remission (SDAI <3.3 since 4 weeks). The safety was good with no adverse events and maintenance, during a six-month followup, of normal liver enzymes. These data suggest a good safety profile of tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and chronic hepatitis C virus pathology.
Objectives. To evaluate composite measures of response without acute-phase reactants in RA patients. Specifically, Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI)-derived response criteria were compared with the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria, and the modified ACR (mACR) response criteria were compared to the ACR response criteria.
Methods. Data from 10 108 RA patients enrolled in the Consortium of Rheumatology Researchers of North America registry were examined, including 649 patients initiating DMARD therapy. CDAI cut-off points for disease activity levels and responses were derived using receiver operating characteristic curves with the DAS28 and EULAR response criteria as gold standards. The κ-statistics were applied to assess agreement between CDAI-derived and EULAR-defined responses, as well as ACR20 and ACR50 with mACR20- and mACR50-defined responses, respectively.
Results. For the components of the EULAR response, the derived CDAI cut-off points for DAS28 levels of 3.2 and 5.1 were 7.6 and 19.6, respectively. The derived CDAI cut-off points were 4.3 and 10.0 for DAS28 changes of 0.6 and 1.2, respectively. There were moderate to substantial agreements between CDAI-derived and EULAR responses (κ = 0.57–0.71). Agreement of ACR20 and ACR50 with mACR20 and mACR50 responses, respectively, was excellent (κ = 0.88–0.95).
Conclusions. Agreement between composite measures of response without acute-phase reactants and standard measures ranged from moderate to excellent. The mACR20 and mACR50 criteria as well as CDAI-derived response criteria, can serve as composite measures of response in clinical practice and research settings without access to acute-phase reactants.
Rheumatoid arthritis; Acute-phase reactants; Response criteria
Interleukin (IL)-6, a cytokine featuring redundancy and pleiotropic activity, contributes to host defense against acute environmental stress, while dysregulated persistent IL-6 production has been demonstrated to play a pathological role in various autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases. Targeting IL-6 is thus a rational approach to the treatment of these diseases. Indeed, clinical trials of tocilizumab, a humanized anti-IL-6 receptor antibody have verified its efficacy and tolerable safety for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, Castleman's disease and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, resulting in approval of this innovative biologic for treatment of these diseases. Moreover, a considerable number of case reports and pilot studies of off-label use of tocilizumab point to the beneficial effects of tocilizumab for a variety of other phenotypically different autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases. Elucidation of the source of IL-6 and of mechanisms through which IL-6 production is dysregulated can thus be expected to lead to clarification of the pathogenesis of various diseases.
interleukin-6; a humanized anti-interleukin-6 receptor antibody; tocilizumab; autoimmune; inflammation.
Recent advances in our understanding of the role of interleukin (IL)-6 in autoimmunity and in particular rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have brought about important changes in the way we think about autoimmune diseases. Encouraging data from several phase III clinical trials of tocilizumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody against IL-6R, have led to its approval in Europe for the treatment of moderate to severe RA. Data on clinical efficacy, patient-reported outcomes, safety, and cost-effectiveness with the use of tocilizumab in patients with RA will be summarized in this review, with particular emphasis on phase III clinical trials. Furthermore, adverse events associated with the use of tocilizumab will be reviewed. Future clinical trials will evaluate the role of tocilizumab in other autoimmune diseases. The goal of this review is to describe the current understanding of the role of IL-6 in mediating the inflammatory response in RA, as well as the role of tocilizumab in the treatment of RA and the evolving role of this agent in other autoimmune diseases.
tocilizumab; rheumatoid arthritis; IL-6; methotrexate
In patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) despite methotrexate, to compare the efficacy of adding tocilizumab to that of switching to tocilizumab monotherapy.
Double-blind, 2-year study in which adults with active RA (DAS28 >4.4) despite methotrexate were randomly assigned either to continue methotrexate with the addition of tocilizumab (MTX+TCZ) 8 mg/kg every 4 weeks or switch to tocilizumab and placebo (TCZ+PBO). The primary endpoint was the DAS28–erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) remission rate at week 24. Secondary objectives included other symptomatic outcomes, quality of life and progression of structural damage.
Of 556 randomly assigned patients, 512 (92%) completed 24 weeks. DAS28–ESR remission rates were 40.4% for TCZ+MTX and 34.8% for TCZ+PBO (p=0.19); American College of Rheumatology 20/50/70/90 rates were 71.5%/45.5%/24.5%/5.8% (TCZ+MTX) and 70.3%/40.2%/25.4%/5.1% (TCZ+PBO; differences not significant). A significant difference between groups was seen for low DAS28 (61.7% vs 51.4%). Radiographic progression was small and not different between groups (Genant–Sharp score progression ≤ smallest detectable change in 91% (TCZ+MTX) and 87% (TCZ+PBO)). Rates per 100 patient-years of serious adverse events and serious infections were 21 and six, respectively, for TCZ+MTX and 18 and six, respectively, for TCZ+PBO. Alanine aminotransferase elevations greater than threefold the upper limit of normal occurred in 7.8% and 1.2% of TCZ+MTX and TCZ+PBO patients, respectively.
No clinically relevant superiority of the TCZ+MTX add-on strategy over the switch to tocilizumab monotherapy strategy was observed. The combination was more commonly associated with transaminase increases. Meaningful clinical and radiographic responses were achieved with both strategies, suggesting that tocilizumab monotherapy might be a valuable treatment strategy in suitable RA patients.
To assess the efficacy and safety of low-dose prednisone chronotherapy using a new modified-release (MR) formulation for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
In this 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, patients with active RA (n=350) were randomised 2:1 to receive MR prednisone 5 mg or placebo once daily in the evening in addition to their existing RA disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) treatment. The primary end point was the percentage of patients achieving a 20% improvement in RA signs and symptoms according to American College of Rheumatology criteria (ie, an ACR20 response) at week 12. Changes in morning pain, duration of morning stiffness, 28-joint Disease Activity Score and health-related quality of life were also assessed.
MR prednisone plus DMARD treatment produced higher response rates for ACR20 (48% vs 29%, p<0.001) and ACR50 (22% vs 10%, p<0.006) and a greater median relative reduction from baseline in morning stiffness (55% vs 35%, p<0.002) at week 12 than placebo plus DMARD treatment. Significantly greater reductions in severity of RA (Disease Activity Score 28) (p<0.001) and fatigue (Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue score) (p=0.003) as well as a greater improvement in physical function (36-item Short-Form Health Survey score) (p<0.001) were seen at week 12 for MR prednisone versus placebo. The incidence of adverse events was similar for MR prednisone (43%) and placebo (49%).
Low-dose MR prednisone added to existing DMARD treatment produced rapid and relevant improvements in RA signs and symptoms.
Tocilizumab is a humanized antihuman interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor monoclonal antibody. It was developed in Japan as the first biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drug targeting IL-6 receptors. Many large-scale global studies have demonstrated its efficacy and safety, and in April 2008 it was approved in Japan for use in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, sooner than in other countries. In this paper, I review the efficacy and safety of tocilizumab in the light of front-line clinical data and data from large-scale studies, and I consider the place of tocilizumab treatment in real clinical practice.
biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drug; interleukin-6; rheumatoid arthritis; tocilizumab
Interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels are known to be increased in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Tocilizumab, a monoclonal antibody to the IL-6 receptor (IL-6R), reduces disease activity in RA, although its mechanisms of action remain unclear. Since IL-6 regulates cytokine production by CD4 T cells during activation, we investigated whether treatment with tocilizumab altered the phenotype and cytokine production by CD4 T cells in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. We show here that tocilizumab treatment does not change the production of cytokines by naïve CD4 T cells. However, tocilizumab treatment causes a selective decrease of IL-21 production by memory/activated CD4 T cells. Since IL-21 is known to promote plasma cell differentiation, we examined the effect of tocilizumab on the production of autoantibodies. We show that there is a decrease in the levels of IgG4 anti-CCP antibodies, but there is no effect on IgG1 anti-CCP antibodies. In addition, we show that IL-21 is a powerful inducer of IgG4 production by B cells. Thus, IL-6 contributes to the presence of IgG4-specific anti-CCP autoantibodies in RA patients, likely through its effect on IL-21 production by CD4 T cells, and IL-6R blockade down-regulates this pathway.
Interleukin-6; IL-6; IL-21; CD4 T; rheumatoid arthritis; IgG4; auti-CCP; tocilizumab
As tocilizumab (TCZ) greatly inhibits inflammatory markers, methods of evaluating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) disease activity that include inflammatory markers may overestimate the effect of TCZ treatment. We have evaluated the impact of inflammatory markers on the efficacy of TCZ by comparing the efficacy indicated by the 28-joint disease activity score using erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28-ESR) with that indicated by the clinical and simplified disease activity indexes (CDAI and SDAI, respectively) and the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) core set criteria in a double-blind study of TCZ—the SATORI study. The Spearman correlation coefficient between DAS28-ESR and CDAI was comparable between that at week 24 and that at baseline [correlation coefficient at baseline and week 24 was 0.823 (p < 0.0001) and 0.818 (p < 0.0001), respectively]. A large difference between the DAS28 remission rate and CDAI remission rate was observed at week 24. However, these results are comparable to those of a previous study conducted with non-TCZ-treated patients. Moreover, the same results were obtained in the comparison between the DAS28-ESR and SDAI, even though the SDAI includes an inflammatory parameter as a component. These results confirm that the DAS28-ESR has a validity comparable to that of other methods in terms of evaluating the RA treatment efficacy of TCZ, despite its strong inflammatory marker-inhibiting effects.
Interleukin 6; Clinical disease activity index; Simplified disease activity index; Acute phase protein; Inflammatory markers
To investigate the expression and activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases in patients with early arthritis who are disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) naïve.
A total of 50 patients with early arthritis who were DMARD naïve (disease duration <1 year) were prospectively followed and diagnosed at baseline and after 2 years for undifferentiated arthritis (UA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (1987 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and 2010 ACR/European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) criteria), or spondyloarthritis (SpA). Synovial biopsies obtained at baseline were examined for expression and phosphorylation of p38, extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) by immunohistochemistry and digital analysis. Synovial tissue mRNA expression was measured by quantitative PCR (qPCR).
ERK and JNK activation was enhanced at inclusion in patients meeting RA criteria compared to other diagnoses. JNK activation was enhanced in patients diagnosed as having UA at baseline who eventually fulfilled 1987 ACR RA criteria compared to those who remained UA, and in patients with RA fulfilling 2010 ACR/EULAR criteria at baseline. ERK and JNK activation was enhanced in patients with RA developing progressive joint destruction. JNK activation in UA predicted 1987 ACR RA classification criteria fulfilment (R2=0.59, p=0.02) after follow-up, and disease progression in early arthritis (R2=0.16, p<0.05). Enhanced JNK activation in patients with persistent disease was associated with altered synovial expression of extracellular matrix components and CD44.
JNK activation is elevated in RA before 1987 ACR RA classification criteria are met and predicts development of erosive disease in early arthritis, suggesting JNK may represent an attractive target in treating RA early in the disease process.
An interim analysis of an all-patient postmarketing surveillance programme in Japan to investigate the safety of tocilizumab for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the real world.
This analysis included 3881 patients. Patients received 8 mg/kg of tocilizumab every 4 weeks, and were observed for 28 weeks. Data on baseline characteristics and adverse events (AE) were collected.
Total and serious AE were reported as 167 and 27 events/100 patient-years, respectively. The most frequent AE and serious AE were infections. Logistic regression analysis identified the following risk factors for the development of serious infection: concurrent or medical history of respiratory disorders; prednisolone dose at baseline ≥5 mg/day; and age ≥65 years. Twenty-five patients died, and the standardised mortality ratio, with the Japanese general population in 2008 as reference, was 1.66, similar to the results from the Japanese cohort study for RA patients.
Tocilizumab is acceptably safe in the real clinical setting. Tocilizumab needs to be used with consideration of the benefit–risk balance to avoid serious infections in elderly patients and those on high doses of corticosteroids or with a concurrent or medical history of respiratory disorders.
To evaluate the efficacy and safety of golimumab 50 and 100 mg monotherapy in Japanese patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) despite treatment with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
A total of 316 patients were randomised to receive subcutaneous injections every 4 weeks of placebo (group 1), golimumab 50 mg (group 2) or golimumab 100 mg (group 3); group 1 crossed over to golimumab 50 mg at week 16. The primary end point was the proportion of patients achieving ≥20% improvement in the American College of Rheumatology criteria (ACR20) at week 14. ACR50 and ACR70 response rates were also measured. Adverse events (AEs) were monitored throughout the study.
Demographics were similar across groups; the mean age was 52 years and 81.8% of patients (252/308) were female. Week 14 ACR20 response rates were significantly greater in groups 2 (51/101 (50.5%)) and 3 (60/102 (58.8%)) than in group 1 (20/105 (19.0%); p<0.0001 for both), as were ACR50 and ACR70 response rates. After placebo crossover at week 16, week 24 ACR response rates were similar in groups 1 and 2. Through week 16, 63.8% of patients in group 1, 62.4% in group 2 and 60.8% in group 3 had AEs and 1.9%, 1.0% and 2.0% had serious AEs. After week 16, one malignancy was reported (breast cancer, group 3). Infections were the most common AEs. No deaths or cases of tuberculosis were reported through week 24.
Golimumab monotherapy (50 and 100 mg) was effective in reducing the signs and symptoms of RA in Japanese patients with active disease despite DMARD treatment.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Anti-TNF; Treatment
The previous clinical studies have demonstrated tocilizumab monotherapy to be highly effective in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The objectives of the present article are to report the efficacy and safety of tocilizumab in patients with active RA in real clinical practice. In total, 61 patients with RA were treated with tocilizumab. Any comorbidities they had, especially infections, were treated thoroughly before they were given the drug. We provided guidance on infection control and prevention. Mean age of the patients was 60.9 ± 12.4 years, and their mean disease duration 10.9 ± 9.2 years. The patients remained on steroids, methotrexate, and tacrolimus as before, but were taken off any other drugs they had been using prior to the treatment. Mean of the 28-joint disease activity score using erythrocyte sedimentation rate was 4.75 ± 1.15 initially and fell to 2.21 ± 0.97 after two doses (n = 50). After four doses, the remission rate was 83.8% (31/37). All patients responded well to the therapy and there was no decrease in the efficacy of tocilizumab during the treatment. Even in the real clinical setting, treatment with tocilizumab can rapidly induce remission in RA in a high proportion of patients and is generally safe and well tolerated. Tocilizumab would seem to be promising as a first-line choice for the treatment of RA.
Rheumatoid arthritis; Tocilizumab; Interleukin-6; DAS28ESR
Background and objectives:
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) causes considerable disability and often results in loss of work capacity and productivity. This study evaluated the impact of adalimumab, a tumour necrosis factor antagonist with demonstrated efficacy in RA, on long-term employment.
Data from an open-label extension study (DE033) of 486 RA patients receiving adalimumab monotherapy who previously did not respond to at least one disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) and had baseline work status information were compared with data from 747 RA patients receiving DMARD treatment in a Norway-based longitudinal registry. Primary outcomes included the time patients continued working at least part time and the likelihood of stopping work. Secondary outcomes included American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) responses and disease remission. Outcomes were compared 6, 12 and 24 months after enrolment.
During a 24-month period, the 158 patients who received adalimumab and were working at baseline worked 7.32 months longer (95% CI 4.8 to 9.1) than did the 180 patients treated with DMARDs, controlling for differences in baseline characteristics. Regardless of baseline work status, patients receiving adalimumab worked 2.0 months longer (95% CI 1.3 to 2.6) and were significantly less likely to stop working than those receiving DMARDs (HR 0.36 (95% CI −0.30 to 0.42) for all patients and 0.36 (95% CI 0.15 to 0.85) for patients working at baseline, respectively). The patients who received adalimumab were also considerably more likely to achieve ACR responses and disease remission than DMARD-treated patients. Patients who achieved EULAR good response and remission were less likely to stop working, but this relationship was only seen in patients receiving DMARDs.
Patients with RA who received adalimumab experienced considerably longer periods of work and continuous employment, and greater rates of clinical responses, than patients receiving DMARDs. The mechanism by which adalimumab decreases likelihood of stopping work seems to be different from that of DMARD treatment and independent of clinical responses.