Efficacy of traditional and biologic agents in different clinical phenotypes of adult-onset Still's disease

Arthritis Rheum. 2010 Aug;62(8):2530-5. doi: 10.1002/art.27532.


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of antiinflammatory agents, steroids, immunosuppressants, and biologic agents in patients with adult-onset Still's disease (AOSD) who have either chronic articular disease or nonchronic disease.

Methods: Forty-five patients with AOSD were seen and followed up for at least 2 years at our institution, from 1991 to 2008. The majority of patients were treated with several therapeutic regimens; a total of 152 efficacy trials were administered. Data regarding the type of medication, the dosage used, and the outcome of these trials were collected and analyzed.

Results: Our data showed that the efficacy of monotherapy with a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug was very low (16%) and confirmed good efficacy of steroid therapy (63%), particularly in patients without chronic articular disease (78%). Patients whose disease did not respond to steroid therapy at the time of disease onset were at risk of the subsequent development of chronic arthritis. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) monotherapy was successful in controlling steroid-resistant or steroid-dependent disease in 60% of patients. Methotrexate and cyclosporine showed the best response rates. The combination of high-dose steroids and cyclosporine was administered to successfully control some acute life-threatening complications. Only 6 patients had disease that was both steroid resistant and DMARD resistant. Treatment with biologic agents eventually led to satisfactory control of disease manifestations in 5 (83%) of these 6 patients.

Conclusion: Steroids were less effective in patients with chronic articular disease than in those with nonchronic disease. The administration of DMARDs early after disease onset could be beneficial in patients with steroid-resistant disease who are at risk of the development of chronic articular disease. Biologic agents proved to be highly effective in both steroid-resistant and DMARD-resistant AOSD.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Still's Disease, Adult-Onset / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunosuppressive Agents