Abstract: Objective: To assess the efficacy and safety of tocilizumab (TCZ) in Caucasian patients with refractory Takayasu's arteritis (TAK) in clinical practice.
Methods: A multicenter study of Caucasian patients with refractory TAK who received TCZ. The outcome variables were remission, glucocorticoid-sparing effect, improvement in imaging techniques, and adverse events. A comparative study between patients who received TCZ as monotherapy (TCZMONO) and combined with conventional disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (cDMARDs) (TCZCOMBO) was performed.
Results: The study comprised 54 patients (46 women/8 men) with a median [interquartile range (IQR)] age of 42.0 (32.5-50.5) years. TCZ was started after a median (IQR) of 12.0 (3.0-31.5) months since TAK diagnosis. Remission was achieved in 12/54 (22.2%), 19/49 (38.8%), 23/44 (52.3%), and 27/36 (75%) patients at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months, respectively. The prednisone dose was reduced from 30.0 mg/day (12.5-50.0) to 5.0 (0.0-5.6) mg/day at 12 months. An improvement in imaging findings was reported in 28 (73.7%) patients after a median (IQR) of 9.0 (6.0-14.0) months. Twenty-three (42.6%) patients were on TCZMONO and 31 (57.4%) on TCZCOMBO: MTX (n = 28), cyclosporine A (n = 2), azathioprine (n = 1). Patients on TCZCOMBO were younger [38.0 (27.0-46.0) versus 45.0 (38.0-57.0)] years; difference (diff) [95% confidence interval (CI) = -7.0 (-17.9, -0.56] with a trend to longer TAK duration [21.0 (6.0-38.0) versus 6.0 (1.0-23.0)] months; diff 95% CI = 15 (-8.9, 35.5), and higher c-reactive protein [2.4 (0.7-5.6) versus 1.3 (0.3-3.3)] mg/dl; diff 95% CI = 1.1 (-0.26, 2.99). Despite these differences, similar outcomes were observed in both groups (log rank p = 0.862). Relevant adverse events were reported in six (11.1%) patients, but only three developed severe events that required TCZ withdrawal.
Conclusion: TCZ in monotherapy, or combined with cDMARDs, is effective and safe in patients with refractory TAK of Caucasian origin.
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