Objective: The immunogenicity of tocilizumab (TCZ) has been poorly studied. We assessed the immunogenicity of TCZ and serum TCZ trough levels in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and the preexisting TCZ-specific CD4+ T cell repertoire in healthy controls.
Methods: Anti-drug antibodies (ADAs) to TCZ and serum TCZ trough levels in RA patients were assessed at different times by ELISA. Frequencies of naive anti-TCZ CD4+ precursors were studied in healthy controls.
Results: In total, 91 samples from 40 RA patients were analyzed: 21 patients within the first 6 months after treatment initiation and 19 during follow-up after a mean TCZ treatment duration of 21±13 months. None of the 91 samples showed persistent ADAs to TCZ. Only 3 RA patients showed transient and low titers of anti-TCZ ADAs. Serum TCZ trough levels were associated with neither patient characteristics (gender, body mass index) nor disease activity and were identical for patients with and without co-treatment with methotrexate. Three of 9 healthy donors showed preexisting TZC-specific CD4+ T cells at a low level.
Conclusion: Serum TCZ trough levels were not affected by patient characteristics. The occurrence of ADAs to TCZ was a rare event. Because healthy donors show the same frequency of naive TCZ-specific and infliximab-specific CD4+ T cell precursors, the low prevalence of ADAs to TCZ might result from interleukin-6 blockade.
Keywords: Immunogenicity; Rheumatoid arthritis; Tocilizumab.
Copyright © 2016. Published by Elsevier SAS.