Development of antidrug antibodies against adalimumab and association with disease activity and treatment failure during long-term follow-up

JAMA. 2011 Apr 13;305(14):1460-8. doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.406.


Context: Short-term data on the immunogenicity of monoclonal antibodies showed associations between the development of antidrug antibodies and diminished serum drug levels, and a diminished treatment response. Little is known about the clinical relevance of antidrug antibodies against these drugs during long-term follow-up.

Objective: To examine the course of antidrug antibody formation against fully human monoclonal antibody adalimumab and its clinical relevance during long-term (3-year) follow-up of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Design, setting, and patients: Prospective cohort study February 2004-September 2008; end of follow-up was September 2010. All 272 patients were diagnosed with RA and started treatment with adalimumab in an outpatient clinic.

Main outcome measures: Disease activity was monitored and trough serum samples were obtained at baseline and 8 time points to 156 weeks. Serum adalimumab concentrations and antiadalimumab antibody titers were determined after follow-up. Treatment discontinuation, minimal disease activity, and clinical remission were compared for patients with and without antiadalimumab antibodies.

Results: After 3 years, 76 of 272 patients (28%) developed antiadalimumab antibodies--51 of these (67%) during the first 28 weeks of treatment. Patients without antiadalimumab antibodies had much higher adalimumab concentrations (median, 12 mg/L; IQR, 9-16 mg/L) compared with patients with antibody titers from 13 to 100 AU/mL (median, 5 mg/L; IQR, 3-9 mg/L; regression coefficient, -4.5; 95% CI, -6.0 to -2.9; P < .001) and also those greater than 100 AU/mL (median, 0 mg/L; IQR, 0-3 mg/L; regression coefficient, -7.1; 95% CI, -8.4 to -5.8; P < .001). Patients with antiadalimumab antibodies more often discontinued participation due to treatment failure (n = 29 [38%]; hazard ratio [HR], 3.0; 95% CI, 1.6-5.5; P < .001) compared with antiadalimumab antibody-negative ones (n = 28 [14%]). Ninety-five of 196 patients (48%) without antiadalimumab antibodies had minimal disease activity vs 10 of 76 patients (13%) with antiadalimumab antibodies; patients with antiadalimumab antibodies less often had sustained minimal disease activity score in 28 joints (DAS28) (< 3.2; HR, 3.6; 95% CI, 1.8-7.2; P < .001) compared with antiadalimumab antibody-negative ones. Three of 76 patients (4%) with antiadalimumab antibodies achieved sustained remission compared with 67 of 196 (34%) antiadalimumab antibody-negative ones; patients with antiadalimumab antibodies less often achieved remission (DAS28 < 2.6; HR, 7.1; 95% CI, 2.1-23.4; P < .001) compared with antiadalimumab antibody-negative ones.

Conclusion: Among outpatients with RA in whom adalimumab was started over 3 years, the development of antidrug antibodies was associated with lower adalimumab concentration and lower likelihood of minimal disease activity or clinical remission.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adalimumab
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibody Formation*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / immunology*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Remission Induction
  • Treatment Failure


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Adalimumab