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Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2007 May;19(3):259-64.

New therapeutic approaches for spondyloarthritis.

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  • 1Hospital of Cook County and Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA.



Tumor necrosis factor alpha antagonists are effective for signs and symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis. Recent studies have evaluated the efficacy of these agents for structural disease modification. We critically review recent radiographic data suggesting that tumor necrosis factor alpha inhibition may have structure-modifying effects in ankylosing spondylitis, and may thereby alter the disease course.


Recent studies employing MRI suggest that therapy with tumor necrosis factor alpha antagonists significantly reduces spinal inflammation in active ankylosing spondylitis when compared to placebo; there was no comparable improvement in the severity of chronic stigmata, such as syndesmyophytes and vertebral bridging. These studies were of relatively short duration and small size.


Despite insufficient evidence to conclude definitively that tumor necrosis factor alpha-antagonist therapy provides durable and effective structure modification in ankylosing spondylitis, the data strongly suggest a benefit, at least in the short term. In the future, MRI data coupled with clinical outcomes in larger cohorts followed for longer durations may result in a paradigm shift for ankylosing spondylitis treatment similar to that undergone for rheumatoid arthritis, where patients with ankylosing spondylitis are offered therapy early in the disease course to arrest and prevent structural disease progression.

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