Objective: Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) is a proinflammatory cytokine involved in the pathogenesis of Sjögren's syndrome (SS), and blockade of TNFalpha may reduce the activity of the disease. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the safety and potential efficacy of infliximab, a chimeric human-mouse anti-TNFalpha monoclonal antibody, in patients with active primary SS.
Methods: This was a single-center, open-label pilot study. Sixteen patients with active primary SS received 3 infusions of infliximab (3 mg/kg) at 0, 2, and 6 weeks. Standard clinical assessment, complete ophthalmologic testing, and functional evaluation of salivary flow were performed at baseline and at weeks 2, 6, 10, and 14.
Results: All patients completed the study. There was statistically significant improvement in all clinical and functional parameters, including global assessments (patient's global assessment, patient's assessment of pain and fatigue, physician's global assessment), erythrocyte sedimentation rate, salivary flow rate, the Schirmer I test, tender joint count, fatigue score, and dry eyes and dry mouth. This clinical benefit was observed at week 2 and was maintained throughout the study and the 2-month followup period. The treatment was well tolerated in all patients, and no significant adverse events were seen. No lupus-like syndrome was observed, and no anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies were observed that were attributable to infliximab therapy.
Conclusion: In patients with active primary SS, a loading-dose regimen of 3 infusions of infliximab provided a fast and significant clinical benefit without major adverse reactions. It was possible to maintain statistically significant improvement for up to 8 weeks after the third infusion.