Background: There is no standardized therapeutic protocol for relapsing polychondritis (RP). Emergence of biologics holds much hope in the management of this connective tissue disease.
Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of biologics in patients with active RP.
Methods: A systematic review of the literature using PubMed was performed through December 2010. MeSH terms and keywords were used relating to RP and biologics. All papers reporting the efficacy and/or safety of biologics in RP were selected. Reference lists of included papers were also searched.
Results: All publications relate to case series or isolated case reports. No randomized controlled trial has been performed. Thirty papers that included 62 patients were published. These patients were treated with TNFα blockers (n = 43), rituximab (n = 11), anakinra (n = 5), tocilizumab (n = 2), and abatacept (n = 1). The endpoint of treatment differs from 1 publication to the other and therefore makes the comparison of efficacy among the various biologics difficult. Biologics were effective in 27 patients, partially effective in 5 patients, and not effective in 29 patients. Safety appeared to be good. However, 4 deaths were recorded (2 sepsis, 1 postoperatively after aortic aneurysm surgery, and 1 after accidental dislocation of the tracheostomy device).
Conclusions: The experience with biologics in RP is very limited and their real efficacy and indications need to be better defined. Randomized controlled trials, although difficult to perform because of the rarity of RP, are needed to determine the place of biologics in the treatment strategy of this orphan disease.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.