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Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2007 Nov-Dec;25(6):810-6.

A multicenter study of leukocytapheresis in rheumatoid arthritis.

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Rheumatic and Collagen Disease Center, Sasebo Chuo Hospital, The University of Tokyo, Sasebo, Japan.



To evaluate the efficacy and safety of leukocytapheresis (LCAP) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that is refractory to disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), we conducted a prospective, multicenter, open-label clinical trial.


We enrolled 38 active RA patients, including 32 patients who showed an inadequate response to > or = 2 DMARDs and 6 patients with rapidly progressive RA. All patients continued drug therapy and were treated with 5 LCAP sessions conducted at 1-week intervals. The clinical response was evaluated at baseline before starting LCAP and at 4 weeks after the completion of all the LCAP sessions using the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria and the 28-joint disease activity score (DAS28) of the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR).


Of the 35 patients who fulfilled the study's eligibility criteria, 24 (69%), 10 (29%), and 23 (66%) patients achieved 20% (ACR20), 50% (ACR50), and DAS28-C-reactive protein (CRP) EULAR improvement, respectively. The mean DAS28-CRP score of the 35 patients decreased significantly from 5.99 +/- 0.92 at baseline to 4.54 +/- 1.39 after treatment. Comparison analysis of the ACR20 responders and non-responders to LCAP revealed that 22 of 24 responders (92%) concomitantly received methotrexate, whereas significantly fewer, that is, 6 of 11 non-responders (55%) received methotrexate. Less frequent and transient mild-to-moderate adverse events, including nausea and headache, were seen in 12 of 189 LCAP sessions (6.3%).


These results demonstrate the usefulness of LCAP in combination with DMARDs, particularly methotrexate, as an effective and safe treatment for refractory RA.

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