Discontinuation of infliximab in rheumatoid arthritis patients in clinical remission

Mod Rheumatol. 2008;18(5):460-4. doi: 10.1007/s10165-008-0089-1. Epub 2008 Jun 6.


Biologic drugs are effective but are also expensive, and it is difficult to evaluate the duration of treatment. Infliximab, an anti-TNFalpha antibody, suppresses arthritic activity and inhibits bone destruction in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Here, we document that infliximab could be discontinued after clinical remission in RA patients. Among 172 patients with RA who reached clinical remission following infliximab (3 mg/kg) and methotrexate (MTX, >6 mg/w), nine patients with sustained remission discontinued it. Clinical assessment was based on a disease activity score (DAS) that included a 28-joint count/erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28-ESR). The disease was assessed before and after the start of infliximab treatment, and concomitant drug treatment-in the order of corticosteroid, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) other than MTX-was gradually discontinued. We considered patients for discontinuation of infliximab treatment after remission (DAS28-ESR<2.6) had been sustained for more than 24 weeks. The nine patients able to discontinue treatment were all females, with a mean age of 53.8 years; eight patients were at stage I or II. The mean duration of disease was 28.7 months, and these patients were on corticosteroid treatment equivalent to a mean of 2.28 mg prednisolone (PSL). These nine patients all met the remission standard-that DAS28-ESR<2.6 for >or=24 weeks) -and so their treatment with concomitant drugs was discontinued. After the discontinuation of infliximab, the mean period of sustained remission was 14.2 months and the longest period was 29 months. The duration of disease was significantly shorter and the points from Steinbrocker's stage-classification were significantly lower in the infliximab-discontinued group than in the infliximab-continued group. Strategic reductions and/or discontinuations of concomitant treatment were performed in RA patients who attained clinical remission (DAS28<2.6) through treatment with infliximab and MTX. Nine patients successfully discontinued infliximab after maintaining clinical remission for more than 24 weeks. After infliximab was discontinued, clinical remission and suppression of joint destruction were maintained with MTX alone, especially in early RA patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infliximab
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Remission Induction
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Infliximab