Abstract: Purpose: We assessed the efficacy and safety of biologic therapy in severe and refractory Peripheral Ulcerative
Design: Open-label multicenter study of biologic-treated patients with severe PUK refractory to conventional
Subjects: We studied 34 patients (44 affected eyes) (24 women/10 men; mean age, 55.26§17.4 years). PUK
was associated with a well-defined condition in 29 of them (rheumatoid arthritis [n = 20], psoriatic arthritis
[n = 2], inflammatory bowel disease [n = 2], Beh¸cet disease [n = 1], granulomatosis with polyangiitis [n = 1],
microscopic polyangiitis [n = 1], systemic lupus erythematosus [n = 1] and axial spondyloarthritis [n = 1]).
Besides topical and oral systemic glucocorticoids, patients had received: methylprednisolone pulses [n = 9],
and conventional immunosuppressive drugs, mainly methotrexate [n = 18], and leflunomide [n = 7]. Eleven
patients had required ocular surgery prior to biologic therapy.
Methods: Following biologic therapy, baseline main outcomes were compared with those found at 1st week,
1st and 6th months and 1st year.
Main outcome measures: Efficacy and safety of biologic therapy. Efficacy was analyzed by the assessment of corneal
inflammation (corneal thinning, central keratolysis and ocular perforation); other causes of ocular surface inflammation
(scleritis, episcleritis); intraocular inflammation (uveitis); visual acuity and glucocorticoid sparing effect.
Results: The first biologic agents used were anti-TNFa drugs (n = 25); adalimumab (n = 16), infliximab (n = 8),
etanercept (n = 1), and non-TNFa agents (n = 9); rituximab (n = 7), tocilizumab (n = 1) belimumab (n = 1) and
abatacept (n = 1). During the follow-up, switching to a second biologic agent was required in 12 of the 25
(48%) patients treated with anti-TNFa drugs. However, no switching was required in those undergoing biologic
therapy different from anti-TNFa agents. The main outcome variables showed a rapid and maintained
improvement after a mean follow-up of 23.7 § 20 months. Major adverse effects were tachyphylaxis, relapsing
respiratory infections, supraventricular tachycardia, pulmonary tuberculosis and death, one each.
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