Risankizumab versus Ustekinumab for Moderate-to-Severe Plaque Psoriasis

N Engl J Med. 2017 Apr 20;376(16):1551-1560. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1607017.


Background: Interleukin-23 is thought to be critical to the pathogenesis of psoriasis. We compared risankizumab (BI 655066), a humanized IgG1 monoclonal antibody that inhibits interleukin-23 by specifically targeting the p19 subunit and thus prevents interleukin-23 signaling, and ustekinumab, an interleukin-12 and interleukin-23 inhibitor, in patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis.

Methods: We randomly assigned a total of 166 patients to receive subcutaneous injections of risankizumab (a single 18-mg dose at week 0 or 90-mg or 180-mg doses at weeks 0, 4, and 16) or ustekinumab (45 or 90 mg, according to body weight, at weeks 0, 4, and 16). The primary end point was a 90% or greater reduction from baseline in the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score at week 12.

Results: At week 12, the percentage of patients with a 90% or greater reduction in the PASI score was 77% (64 of 83 patients) for risankizumab (90-mg and 180-mg groups, pooled), as compared with 40% (16 of 40 patients) for ustekinumab (P<0.001); the percentage of patients with a 100% reduction in the PASI score was 45% in the pooled 90-mg and 180-mg risankizumab groups, as compared with 18% in the ustekinumab group. Efficacy was generally maintained up to 20 weeks after the final dose of 90 or 180 mg of risankizumab. In the 18-mg and 90-mg risankizumab groups and the ustekinumab group, 5 patients (12%), 6 patients (15%), and 3 patients (8%), respectively, had serious adverse events, including two basal-cell carcinomas and one major cardiovascular adverse event; there were no serious adverse events in the 180-mg risankizumab group.

Conclusions: In this phase 2 trial, selective blockade of interleukin-23 with risankizumab was associated with clinical responses superior to those associated with ustekinumab. This trial was not large enough or of long enough duration to draw conclusions about safety. (Funded by Boehringer Ingelheim; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02054481 ).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Dermatologic Agents / adverse effects
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-12 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Interleukin-23 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psoriasis / classification
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy*
  • Scalp / pathology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Ustekinumab / adverse effects
  • Ustekinumab / therapeutic use*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Interleukin-23
  • Interleukin-12
  • risankizumab
  • Ustekinumab

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02054481