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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2009 Nov;48(11):1451-4. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kep270. Epub 2009 Sep 11.

Adverse events and efficacy of TNF-alpha blockade with infliximab in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: long-term follow-up of 13 patients.

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  • 1Department of Medicine III, Division of Rheumatology, University Clinical Center Carl Gustav Carus at the Technical University of Dresden, Fetscherstrasse 74, 01307 Dresden, Germany.



To follow-up on all available infliximab-treated SLE patients for safety and long-term efficacy in order to extract information that is useful for planning appropriate controlled trials with infliximab in SLE.


We analysed charts of six patients treated in an open-label safety trial and seven additional patients treated with infliximab on a compassionate care basis for uncontrolled SLE organ inflammation.


Out of nine patients with lupus nephritis, six had a long-term response after four infusions of infliximab in combination with AZA, lasting for up to 5 years. All five patients with lupus arthritis responded, but this response did not last for >2 months after the last infusion. One additional patient had a long-lasting improvement in SLE interstitial lung disease. No symptoms suggestive of infliximab-induced SLE flares occurred in any patients. Short-term treatment appeared relatively safe, but one patient developed deep-vein thrombosis and several infections. Under long-term therapy, two patients had life-threatening or fatal events, namely CNS lymphoma and Legionella pneumonia. Retreatment and treatment without concomitant immunosuppression led to drug reactions.


Short-term therapy with four infusions of infliximab in combination with AZA was relatively safe, and had remarkable long-term efficacy for lupus nephritis and, potentially, also interstitial lung disease. Long-term therapy with infliximab, however, was associated with severe adverse events in two out of three SLE patients, which may have been provoked by infliximab and/or by their long-standing refractory SLE and previous therapies.

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