Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with anakinra, a recombinant human interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, in combination with methotrexate: results of a twenty-four-week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Arthritis Rheum. 2002 Mar;46(3):614-24. doi: 10.1002/art.10141.


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of anakinra in combination with methotrexate (MTX) in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: Patients with moderate-to-severe active RA who were receiving MTX for 6 consecutive months, with stable doses for > or = 3 months (those with disease duration of >6 months but <12 years) were randomized into 6 groups: placebo or 0.04, 0.1, 0.4, 1.0, or 2.0 mg/kg of anakinra administered in a single, daily, subcutaneous injection. The primary efficacy end point was the proportion of subjects who met the American College of Rheumatology 20% improvement criteria (attained an ACR20 response) at week 12.

Results: A total of 419 patients were randomized in the study. Patient demographics and disease status were similar in the 6 treatment groups. The ACR20 responses at week 12 in the 5 active treatment plus MTX groups demonstrated a statistically significant (P = 0.001) dose-response relationship compared with the ACR20 response in the placebo plus MTX group. The ACR20 response rate in the anakinra 1.0-mg/kg (46%; P = 0.001) and 2.0-mg/kg (38%; P = 0.007) dose groups was significantly greater than that in the placebo group (19%). The ACR20 responses at 24 weeks were consistent with those at 12 weeks. Similar improvements in anakinra-treated subjects were noted in individual ACR components, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, onset of ACR20 response, sustainability of ACR20 response, and magnitude of ACR response. Anakinra was safe and well tolerated. Injection site reaction was the most frequently noted adverse event, and this led to premature study withdrawal in 7% (1.0-mg/kg group) to 10% (2.0-mg/kg group) of patients receiving higher doses.

Conclusion: In patients with persistently active RA, the combination of anakinra and MTX was safe and well tolerated and provided significantly greater clinical benefit than MTX alone.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies / analysis
  • Antirheumatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antirheumatic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antirheumatic Agents / immunology
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Blood Sedimentation
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Safety
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sialoglycoproteins / administration & dosage
  • Sialoglycoproteins / adverse effects
  • Sialoglycoproteins / immunology
  • Sialoglycoproteins / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • IL1RN protein, human
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Sialoglycoproteins
  • Methotrexate