Purpose of review: To critically review recent advances in medical management of Takayasu arteritis, with a special focus on the rationale and evidence to support the use of biologic agents in this disease.
Recent findings: Multiple case series and observational studies support the use of anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) medications, in particular infliximab, in patients who relapse upon tapering steroids and/or adding nonbiologic immunosuppressive agents. However, these medications must be continued to maintain effect, and often patients require increased doses over time. Tocilizumab and rituximab have been shown to lead to improved disease activity in small numbers of Takayasu's patients, including those refractory to anti-TNF treatment.
Summary: Anti-TNF agents are recommended for the treatment of Takayasu's patients who are unable to taper prednisone despite treatment with a nonbiologic immunosuppressive medication. Whether these biologic agents should be considered earlier in the treatment algorithm of these complicated patients remains an area of interest. Tocilizumab and rituximab may also be of benefit in refractory patients. Prospective randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm these findings.