Objective: To investigate the effect of etanercept therapy on radiographic progression in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS).
Methods: Patients with AS who had previously participated in a 24-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of etanercept therapy were enrolled in a 72-week open-label extension. Radiographs of the cervical and lumbar spine from patients who received etanercept (25 mg twice weekly) for up to 96 weeks were compared with radiographs from patients in a large prevalence cohort (Outcome Assessments in Ankylosing Spondylitis International Study [OASIS]) who had not been treated with anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha (anti-TNFalpha) agents. Radiographs obtained at 2 time points up to 96 weeks apart from patients in both study populations were digitized and read by 2 independent readers who were blinded with regard to patient group and sequence. The primary end point was the 96-week change in the modified Stoke AS Spine Score (mSASSS).
Results: A total of 257 patients treated with etanercept were compared with 175 unselected patients from the OASIS study. There was no significant difference in the change in the mSASSS from baseline among patients who received etanercept (mean +/- SD 0.91 +/- 2.45) versus those from the OASIS group (0.95 +/- 3.18).
Conclusion: Unlike other inflammatory rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, structural progression in AS seems to be independent of TNF, despite the fact that TNF is responsible for the signs and symptoms due to inflammation in this disease.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00356356.