Glucocorticoid-sparing in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and treated with tocilizumab: the SPARE-1 study

Clin Exp Rheumatol. Mar-Apr 2016;34(2):303-10. Epub 2016 Mar 3.


Objectives: To describe steroid-sparing in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients treated with tocilizumab (TCZ).

Methods: To evaluate the proportion of RA patients treated with more than 5 mg of prednisone (or equivalent)/day and starting TCZ who can receive less than 5 mg/day after 12 months without intensification of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), we conducted a non-interventional, multicentre, prospective study from 2011 to 2013. We included patients with moderate-to-severe RA, >18 years old, starting TCZ and receiving corticosteroids (GCs) at a dose greater than 5 mg/day of prednisone for at least 3 months.

Results: Amongst the 307 analysed patients (78% women, median RA duration: 8 years, mean DAS28-ESR: 5.1±1.3), 40% (95%CI=[35-46]) reached the targeted daily prednisone dose at M12, without conventional synthetic (cs)DMARD intensification. Predictive factors were RA duration of 5 years or less (OR=2.60, p=0.01), daily prednisone dose of 7.5 mg or less (OR=2.12, p=0.03), and low ESR value before the first TCZ infusion (OR=0.86, p=0.047). The proportion of patients with no more GCs increased up to 20% at M12. Disease activity improved over the 1-year period (DAS28-ESR LDA and remission in 41% and 33% of patients at M12, respectively). Amongst the 314 patients analysed for safety, at least one AE and at least one SAE were reported in 211 patients (67%) and in 48 patients (15%), respectively. No unexplained safety signal arose with TCZ.

Conclusions: A biological DMARD as TCZ allows reducing both GCs dose and disease activity in RA patients. Nevertheless, corticosteroid spare in real life is probably lower.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • tocilizumab
  • Prednisone