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Autoimmun Rev. 2018 Feb;17(2):103-107. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2017.11.013. Epub 2017 Nov 24.

Belimumab in the treatment of systemic lupus erythematous: An evidence based review of its place in therapy.

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Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, São Paulo, Brazil. Electronic address:



Systemic lupus erythematous is an autoimmune disease with diverse clinical features and has its development associated with a complexity of genetic, hormonal and environmental factors and the development of autoantibodies. Identification of new treatments is currently an area of intense investigation. Belimumab is the first biologic approved for the treatment of the disease inhibiting the excessive B cell activity observed in these patients and consequently reduction of autoantibodies.


To review the current transition of the evidence available of its use in real life patients with persistent active disease while on conventional therapies.


The results observed on the large series of patients (over 50 patients) followed for at least six months confirm the observations from phase 3 trials. In clinical practice close to two third of the patients remained on belimumab and one third discontinued mostly due to evaluation by the doctor or the patient or both of no detectable positive response. The presence of adverse events was considerably low and the subgroups with skin and joint manifestations appear to benefit the most. Daily steroid use is usually reduced to a significantly low when compared with the intake before introduction of the biologic Although not seen on trials in real life the addition of belimumab to the conventional therapy in lupus nephritis is being reported in several patients. Cost of the medication is still an issue that hampers its use. Further evidence of its use in certain specific groups is under investigation and its results should shed light on additional indications.


Considering what is currently published on the evidence here reviewed in the use of belimumab in clinical practice it is our understanding that belimumab it will be gradually incorporated in the armamentarium of treatment not necessarily on refractory patients. We believe that with the upcoming of the subcutaneous route in the near future should also help in widen the use of the belimumab to be considered in first line combination set ups.


Autoimmune disease; Belimumab; Systemic lupus erythematosus

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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