Objective: Treatment of patients with infliximab, a chimeric monoclonal IgG1 antibody against tumor necrosis factor, may result in the formation of infliximab-specific IgG antibodies. This study evaluated the clinical significance of these antibodies in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: Antiinfliximab antibodies were measured using a newly developed radioimmunoassay in a cohort of 51 consecutive patients with RA treated with infliximab, with a followup of 1 year. In addition, serum infliximab levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The results were analyzed in relation to the clinical response to treatment according to the European League Against Rheumatism criteria.
Results: Antibodies against infliximab were detected in 22 patients (43%). Patients without detectable antiinfliximab antibodies (n = 29 [57%]) were significantly more often classified as responders (20 of 29 [69%]) compared with patients with detectable antiinfliximab antibodies (8 of 22 [36%]; P = 0.04). Three patients had an infusion-related allergic reaction, all of whom had detectable antiinfliximab antibodies.
Conclusion: In this study, nearly half of the RA patients treated with infliximab developed antiinfliximab antibodies within the first year of treatment. This seems to be clinically relevant, since development of antiinfliximab antibodies is associated with a reduced response to treatment.