Advanced therapy for juvenile arthritis

Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2002 Jul;16(3):361-78.


The management of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) has undergone dramatic changes in the last decade with undoubtedly great benefit for many patients. In particular, more effective use of available drugs and the application of newly discovered drugs have been responsible for much of this improvement. Methotrexate is the gold standard for management of moderate to severe polyarthritis. Other disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as sulphasalazine and cyclosporine are finding a specific role for resistant disease where they may be used in combination with methotrexate, for example. The introduction of anti-TNF agents, such as etanercept, is likely to herald a major shift to the use of biological agents in those intolerant to, or unresponsive to, standard DMARD therapy. DMARDs provide major steroid spring effect in many children with severe JIA with the hope that osteoporosis and growth failure will be reduced. More judicious use of corticosteroids and techniques such as intravenous 'pulse therapy' rather than long-term high-dose use of oral corticosteroids are also major changes. Intra-articular corticosteroids are commonly used in children with oligoarticular JIA and as a useful adjunct to DMARD therapy in children with other forms of JIA. Autologous stem cell transplantation is an exciting new development currently restricted to use in patients with very severe, resistant disease. Modifications of technique, experience and increased safety may make this a more widely applicable technique, in particular for patients with a poor prognosis, such as those with systemic JIA. Although the focus of this chapter is on drug therapy, multidisciplinary team management for children with chronic arthritis focusing on the physical, nutritional, intellectual and psychosocial wellbeing of the child will continue to be important.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / therapy*
  • Child
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Etanercept
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / therapeutic use
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / therapeutic use
  • Stem Cell Transplantation*


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Etanercept
  • Methotrexate