Filtration leukocytapheresis therapy in rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Arthritis Rheum. 1999 Mar;42(3):431-7. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(199904)42:3<431::AID-ANR6>3.0.CO;2-2.


Objective: To determine the efficacy and safety of filtration leukocytapheresis (LCP) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: Twenty-five patients with drug-resistant RA were randomly assigned to undergo filtration LCP and 7 to undergo sham apheresis (control group) in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Three apheresis procedures were performed, with 1-week intervals between procedures. The efficacy of filtration LCP was evaluated according to the American College of Rheumatology definition of improvement in RA. Medications for each patient were unchanged for at least 6 months prior to enrollment and throughout the study.

Results: Tender joint counts, swollen joint counts, patient assessment of pain and global severity, physician assessment of global severity, and Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index were significantly improved in the LCP group compared with the control group (P < 0.05 for patient assessment of pain; P < 0.01 for all others). Seventy-nine percent of the patients in the LCP group exhibited significant overall improvement, while none of the patients in the control group were improved (P < 0.001).

Conclusion: The results indicate that filtration LCP is an effective and well-tolerated treatment for patients with drug-resistant RA.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthralgia / etiology
  • Arthralgia / immunology
  • Arthralgia / therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Resistance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukapheresis*
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Placebos


  • Placebos