PloS one 2016 09 0811(9) e0162316 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0162316
With the present study we wanted to explore the impact of treatment with a tumor necrosis factor-α -inhibitor (TNFi) on levels of soluble biomarkers in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and to identify predictors of impaired drug levels and development of anti-TNFi antibodies (anti-TNFi Abs).
Blood samples from 26 patients with established RA were taken at baseline and following 6 months of treatment with adalimumab or infliximab. Samples were analyzed for levels of TNFi, interleukin (IL)-6, and soluble TNF-receptors 1 and -2 (sTNF-R1 and -2) and for presence of anti-TNFi Abs. Clinical and demographic data were recorded as well.
During the initial 6 months treatment, DAS28(CRP) (Disease activity score in 28 joints using C-reactive protein) and levels of IL-6 and sTNF-R2 decreased significantly in patients without anti-TNFi Abs and in patients retaining detectable drug levels. The levels of other tested cytokines (TNF-α, TNF-β, IL-1ra, IL-1b, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12(p70), IL-13, IL-17A, IL-17F, and IL-33) were generally below detection limits. Higher baseline levels of IL-6 associated with undetectable levels of TNFi at follow-up. Anti-TNFi Abs were associated with decreased drug levels, but no predictors for anti-TNFi Ab development could be found.
The effect of treatment with TNFi on RA disease activity depends on levels of active drug, and by presence of anti-TNFi Abs. In patients who retain detectable drug levels, and in the absence of anti-TNFi Abs, clinical outcome is improved during treatment, and circulating levels of IL-6 and sTNF-R2 decrease. Baseline levels of IL-6 may predict depletion of TNFi and may identify patients at risk of treatment failure.