Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonist adalimumab in patients with axial spondylarthritis (SpA) without radiographically defined sacroiliitis refractory to conventional treatment.
Methods: Patients with active axial SpA (n = 46) were randomized to receive placebo or adalimumab at a dosage of 40 mg subcutaneously every other week for 12 weeks, followed by an open-label extension that continued up to week 52. The diagnosis of axial SpA required the presence of 3 of 6 diagnostic criteria, including 2 of the following 3 criteria: inflammatory back pain, HLA-B27 positivity, or acute inflammation of the spine or sacroiliac joints on magnetic resonance imaging, in the absence of radiographic evidence of sacroiliitis. The primary end point was a 40% response according to the improvement criteria of the Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society (ASAS40).
Results: All 46 patients (22 receiving adalimumab and 24 receiving placebo) completed the 12-week trial; 38 patients completed the extension period to week 52. At week 12, an ASAS40 response was achieved by 54.5% of the adalimumab-treated patients, as compared with 12.5% of the placebo-treated patients (P = 0.004). After switching to adalimumab, a similar degree of efficacy was also achieved by the patients who were initially treated with placebo. Efficacy was maintained in all patients until week 52. Young age at study entry and an elevated C-reactive protein concentration were the best predictors of achieving an ASAS40 response. Serious adverse events occurred in 5 patients, none of which was related to the study drug.
Conclusion: Adalimumab is the first TNF antagonist to demonstrate good clinical efficacy and safety in patients with axial SpA without radiographically defined sacroiliitis.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00235105.