The immunogenicity to the first anti-TNF therapy determines the outcome of switching to a second anti-TNF therapy in spondyloarthritis patients

Arthritis Res Ther. 2013 Jul 26;15(4):R79. doi: 10.1186/ar4258.


Introduction: Anti-TNF drugs have proven to be effective against spondyloarthritis (SpA), although 30% of patients fail to respond or experience adverse events leading to treatment discontinuation. In rheumatoid arthritis, the presence of anti-drug antibodies (ADA) against the first TNF inhibitor influences the outcome after switching. Our aim was to assess whether the response to a second anti-TNF drug is related to the previous development of ADA to the first anti-TNF drug SpA patients.

Methods: Forty-two SpA patients began a second anti-TNF drug after failing to respond to the first anti-TNF therapy. Clinical activity was assessed by the Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Score (ASDAS) at baseline (at the beginning of the first and second anti-TNF therapy) and at 6 months after switching. The drug and ADA levels were measured by ELISA before each administration.

Results: All patients were treated with anti-TNF drugs and mainly due to inefficacy were switched to a second anti-TNF drug. Eleven of 42 (26.2%) developed ADA during the first biologic treatment. At baseline, no differences in ASDAS were found in patients with or without ADA to the first anti-TNF drug (3.52 ± 1.03 without ADA vs. 3.14 ± 0.95 with ADA, p = 0.399) and to the second anti-TNF drug (3.36 ± 0.94 without ADA vs. 3.09 ± 0.91 with ADA, p = 0.466). At 6 months after switching, patients with previous ADA had lower disease activity (1.62 ± 0.93 with ADA vs. 2.79 ± 1.01 without ADA, p = 0.002) and most patients without ADA had high disease activity state by the ASDAS (25 out of 31 (80.6%) without ADA vs. 3 out of 11 (27.3%) with ADA, p = 0.002).

Conclusions: In SpA the failure to respond to the first anti-TNF drug due to the presence of ADA predicts a better clinical response to a second anti-TNF drug.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies / blood*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / immunology*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Substitution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spondylarthritis / blood
  • Spondylarthritis / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Antibodies
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha