Introduction: Adalimumab, a humanized monoclonal antibody targeted against TNF-α, has proved to be successful in the treatment of uveitis. Another anti-TNF-α agent, i.e., infliximab, has been reported of benefit in the treatment of refractory sarcoidosis. The aim of this prospective case series was to evaluate the effect of adalimumab on intraocular inflammatory signs and other relevant clinical manifestations (lung function, serological inflammatory parameters, and fatigue) of sarcoidosis.
Methods: Sarcoidosis patients with refractory posterior uveitis (n = 26, 17 females, 41 eyes in total) were systematically followed for 12 months after initiation of adalimumab 40 mg sc once a week. Inclusion criteria were non-responsiveness to prednisone and methotrexate (MTX) or intolerance to these drugs. Adjunctive therapy with prednisone and MTX was tapered during treatment with adalimumab. Localization and improvement, stabilization or deterioration of intraocular inflammatory signs was scored. Pulmonary function- and laboratory testing were performed and Fatigue Assessment Scale was completed. Results at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months were compared.
Results: Choroidal involvement resolved in 10/15 patients, five had partial improvement; vasculitis resolved in 1/1 patient; papillitis resolved in 7/8 patients, one had partial response; macular edema resolved in 5/8 patients, three had partial response; vitreous cleared completely in 5/5 patients. Overall outcome regarding intraocular inflammatory signs showed improvement in 22 patients (85%) and stabilization in four patients (15%). At 12 months, no recurrences were reported in those successfully treated. Laboratory parameters of inflammatory activity (C-reactive protein; serum angiotensin-converting enzyme and soluble interleukin-2 Receptor) improved (p < 0.01). Moreover, fatigue improved in 14/21 (67%) of the patients suffering from fatigue and the diffusion capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO) improved in 7/8 (88%) of patients with a decreased DLCO (p < 0.01). The dosage of both prednisone and MTX could be tapered down significantly (p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively).
Conclusions: Adalimumab appeared successful in sarcoidosis patients with refractory chronic non-infectious uveitis showing improvement in intraocular inflammatory signs as well as in other relevant clinical indicators of disease activity. Future randomized studies are needed to determine the optimal dosage, dose interval and duration of therapy in refractory multisystemic sarcoidosis.