Objectives: The aim of the study was to evaluate the efficacy and long-term safety of tocilizumab treatment in children with systemic-onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis in a single centre.
Material and methods: The study was based on a retrospective analysis of a cohort of 10 patients with systemic-onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis who were treated with tocilizumab in the period September 2011-July 2017. Their medical records were analysed taking into consideration the effectiveness of tocilizumab treatment and frequency of side effects.
Results: Before the initiation of treatment, 9/10 patients from the study group complained of fever and had significantly increased values of inflammatory markers, with the median CRP concentration 41.1 mg/l (norm < 5 mg/l) and ESR 37 mm/h (norm < 12 mg/l). The period of the initial 12 weeks of treatment was a quantum leap in the course of the disease: all children were afebrile, and inflammatory markers values decreased by 99.4% in the case of CRP and 91.9% in ESR. All patients fulfilled ACR Pedi 50 criteria, and 3 of them achieved ACR Pedi 70. In the next stages of treatment the response to tocilizumab was sustained, reaching 10 children achieving ACR Pedi 70 and 5 ACR Pedi 90 after one year of therapy. Tocilizumab appeared to be relatively safe in the study group. Although elevation of transaminases and neutropenia were observed in 5/10 patients, they were usually mild and transitional in their course.
Conclusions: Tocilizumab is both effective and has a relatively good safety profile in children with severe systemic-onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis. It should be considered in the recommendations as a first-line treatment of this disease.
Keywords: biologic treatment effectiveness; systemic-onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis; tocilizumab; treatment response.