Objectives: Etanercept has been shown to be effective for the treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). The therapeutic efficacy of etanercept for chronic uveitis, a major complication of JIA, has not been evaluated so far. Therefore, the appearance of chronic anterior uveitis and associated complications in JIA patients treated with etanercept was evaluated.
Methods: Questionnaires were sent to paediatric rheumatologists treating a total of 310 JIA patients with etanercept.
Results: Two hundred and twenty-nine questionnaires (74%) were returned. Before institution of etanercept, 31 patients (13.5%) had a history of uveitis with a total of 102 flares. Twenty-eight patients belonged to the high-risk groups of the oligoarticular and seronegative polyarticular subtypes. Upon commencing etanercept, 32 courses of uveitis occurred in 19 patients and in two further patients (1%) in whom uveitis occurred for the first time. Twenty of them belonged to the high-risk group. Uveitis during etanercept therapy occurred in 12 of 15 patients (80%) with more than one course of uveitis, and in seven of 16 patients (44%) with only one course before etanercept therapy. Complications were noted in 12 patients before and in eight during etanercept treatment. In 87% of the uveitis patients, arthritis demonstrated a significant or complete response.
Conclusion: During treatment with etanercept, there were both relapses and first courses of uveitis. In addition, the frequency and severity of uveitis seemed not to be influenced by etanercept. In particular, patients with relapsing uveitis before institution of etanercept treatment remain at high risk of the development of uveitis flares despite etanercept treatment.