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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2004 Mar;15(3):717-21.

Prospective study of TNFalpha blockade with infliximab in anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated systemic vasculitis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) plays an important role in the pathogenesis of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated systemic vasculitis. TNFalpha blockade is a potential therapy for these disorders.


An open-label, multi-center, prospective clinical trial in two subgroups was performed. Study I examined acute disease, either first presentation or relapse (Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score [BVAS] > or = 10; n = 16); study II examined persistent disease (BVAS > or = 4; n = 16). Patients received infliximab (5 mg/kg) at 0, 2, 6, and 10 wk. Concomitant therapy in study I included prednisolone and cyclophosphamide. Study II patients continued their existing treatment regimens, with prednisolone tapered according to clinical status.


Mean age was 52.4 yr, 53% of the patients were female, and follow-up was 16.8 mo. Twenty-eight patients (88%) achieved remission (14 per study group). BVAS decreased from 12.3 (confidence interval [CI] = 10.5 to 14.0) at entry to 0.3 (CI = 0.2 to 0.9) at wk 14 (P < 0.001). C-reactive protein (mg/L) decreased from 29.4 (CI = 16.8 to 42.0) at entry to 7.0 (CI = 3.3 to 10.9) by wk 14 (P = 0.001). Mean prednisolone dose (mg/d) in study II decreased from 23.8 (CI = 15.0 to 32.5) at entry to 8.8 (CI = 5.9 to 11.7) at wk 14 (P = 0.002). There were two deaths and seven serious infections. Relapse occurred in five patients (three in study II) after a mean of 27 wk.


TNFalpha blockade with infliximab was effective at inducing remission in 88% of patients with antibody-associated systemic vasculitis and permitted reduction in steroid doses. Severe infections were seen in 21% of patients, and despite continued infliximab, 20% of initial responders experienced disease flares. Infliximab is a promising new therapy for vasculitis both as a component of initial therapy and in the management of refractory disease. These results need confirmation in larger randomized trials.

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