Rheumatoid arthritis therapy reappraisal: strategies, opportunities and challenges

Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2015 May;11(5):276-89. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2015.8. Epub 2015 Feb 17.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is considered a chronic disease that cannot be cured. Biologic agents have enabled good therapeutic successes; however, the response to biologic therapy depends on treatment history and, especially, disease duration. In general, the more drug-experienced the patients, the lower the response rates, although this limitation can be overcome by promptly adjusting or switching treatment in a treat-to-target approach. Another challenge is the question of how long therapy should be continued once the treatment target, which should be remission or at least a state of low disease activity, has been reached. The data available suggest that, in most patients with established disease, cessation of biologic therapy will be followed by disease flares, whereas a reduction of dose or an increase in the interval between doses enables maintenance of treatment success. Induction therapy very early in the disease course followed by withdrawal of the biologic agent might also be a feasible approach to attain sustained good outcomes, but currently available data are not strong enough to allow for such a conclusion to be reached. Taken together, this underscores the importance of research into the cause(s) of RA so that curative therapies can be developed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Biological Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Biological Factors