Objective: To compare a single infusion of the anti-TNF antibody infliximab vs CSs for acute panuveitis attacks in Behçet's disease (BD).
Methods: A prospective, observational study of patients with panuveitis, who received either an infliximab infusion (5 mg/kg, 19 eyes) or high-dose methylprednisolone intravenously (1 g/day for 3 days, 8 eyes), or intra-vitreal triamcinolone acetonide (4 mg, 8 eyes) at attack's onset. Baseline maintenance therapy remained unchanged during the following 30 days. Visual acuity, anterior chamber cells, vitreous cells and inflammation of the posterior eye segment were assessed at baseline and at Days 1, 7, 14 and 29 (±1) post-treatment.
Results: While no significant differences were noted between i.v. and intra-vitreal CSs, infliximab was faster than CSs in decreasing total ocular inflammation scores and fundus inflammation scores (P = 0.01 and P < 0.0001 for treatment × time(2) interaction, respectively, using generalized estimating equation analysis). Independently of time, infliximab was superior to CSs in clearing retinal vasculitis (P < 0.003), as well as in resolution of retinitis (P = 0.008) and cystoid macular oedema (P < 0.007). Moreover, a faster regression of cystoid macular oedema was observed with infliximab compared with CSs (P < 0.03). The beneficial effects of the three treatment modalities on visual acuity were comparable from baseline to the end of follow-up. No side effects were noted with infliximab or methylprednisolone, whereas intra-vitreal triamcinolone acetonide caused ocular hypertension in four of the eight eyes, requiring surgical intervention in two.
Conclusion: A single infusion of infliximab should always be considered, even as an adjunct therapy, for the control of acute panuveitis attacks in BD.