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Joint Bone Spine. 2009 Jul;76(4):350-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jbspin.2008.11.009. Epub 2009 Apr 11.

Effect of discontinuing TNFalpha antagonist therapy in patients with remission of rheumatoid arthritis.

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Service de Rhumatologie, Hôpital L'Archet 1, 06200 CHU Nice, Université Nice, Sophia Antipolis, France.



The objective of this study was to determine the time to relapse after tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) antagonist discontinuation in patients with remission of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


Among 304 patients taking TNFalpha antagonist therapy for RA, 21 achieved a remission and were taken off the TNFalpha antagonist. Remission was defined as DAS28<2.6 for at least 6 months without nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs or more than 5 mg of prednisone per day but with disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) therapy if needed. The same TNFalpha antagonist was restarted in the event of a relapse (DAS28>3.2).


The 21 patients had a mean age of 61 years, a mean disease duration of 11.3 years, and a mean remission duration at TNFalpha antagonist discontinuation of 19.2 months. The TNFalpha antagonist was infliximab in 2 patients, adalimumab in 5, and etanercept in 14; and 14 patients were taking a concomitant DMARD. The number of patients still in remission after TNFalpha antagonist discontinuation was 9/20 after 6 months and 5/20 after 12 months. Mean time to relapse was 14.7 weeks. While off TNFalpha antagonist therapy, 3 of the 5 relapse-free patients after 12 months were on DMARD therapy, compared to 11 of the 15 patients who relapsed. Compared to the 15 patients who relapsed, the 5 relapse-free patients had a longer time on TNFalpha antagonist therapy (56 months vs. 35 months, P=0.012) and a longer time in remission on TNFalpha antagonist therapy (35 months vs.14.5 months, P=0.04). The 15 patients who relapsed consistently achieved a remission after resuming TNFalpha antagonist therapy; the remission occurred within 2 months in 13 patients.


TNFalpha antagonist discontinuation in patients in remission of RA was followed by a relapse within 12 months in 75% of cases. Relapsing patients responded well to resumption of the same TNFalpha antagonist.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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