Clinical outcomes after withdrawal of anti-tumor necrosis factor α therapy in patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis: a twelve-year experience

Arthritis Rheum. 2011 Oct;63(10):3163-8. doi: 10.1002/art.30502.


Objective: To estimate the length of time to disease flare and the likelihood of achieving clinical remission after discontinuation of treatment with tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) blockers in patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review in a cohort of patients with JIA treated with TNFα inhibitors between January 1, 1998 and November 1, 2009. Demographic information, laboratory data, and medication exposure were extracted using a standardized tool. Outcomes of interest were based on preliminary criteria for remission in JIA.

Results: One hundred seventy-one patients with 255 discrete episodes of anti-TNFα treatment were reviewed. The median duration of patient observation was 59.7 months (range 5.8-211.2 months). Among patients in whom disease was inactive after discontinuation of anti-TNFα therapy, 50% had persistently inactive disease at 6 months, and 33% had clinical remission at 12 months. The median duration of anti-TNFα therapy after inactive disease was obtained was 6.1 months (range 0-67.9 months). No significant association was observed between the time to disease flare after cessation of treatment with TNFα antagonists and the length of time from the diagnosis of JIA to the initiation of anti-TNFα therapy, the duration of therapy following the onset of inactive disease, or the total duration of treatment with TNFα antagonists prior to discontinuation. The category of JIA, sex, and age at diagnosis were not associated with the risk of relapse.

Conclusion: One-third of patients with JIA can successfully undergo withdrawal of treatment with TNFα antagonists and be spared the cost and potential morbidity of treatment for at least 12 months. Further studies are needed to identify factors to accurately identify these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adalimumab
  • Adolescent
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Etanercept
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / administration & dosage
  • Immunoglobulin G / therapeutic use*
  • Infant
  • Infliximab
  • Male
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / administration & dosage
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Recurrence
  • Remission Induction
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Withholding Treatment


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Infliximab
  • Adalimumab
  • Etanercept