Tocilizumab for the treatment of adult-onset Still's disease

Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2019 Apr;19(4):273-286. doi: 10.1080/14712598.2019.1590334.


Adult-onset Still´s disease (AOSD) is a systemic inflammatory condition that affects mainly young people. The clinical course consists of two distinctive patterns: one with a predominance of systemic symptoms and another manifested by progressive chronic polyarthritis. Glucocorticoids remain the mainstay in the treatment of AOSD. However, biologic therapies are often required to achieve clinical remission and allow glucocorticoid discontinuation. Areas covered: The review summarizes the main retrospective and prospective studies, and case series on the use of the anti-interleukin (IL)-6 receptor tocilizumab in AOSD. Expert opinion: Since IL-6 serum levels are highly increased in both active systemic and polyarticular phenotypes, IL-6 blockade was considered to be a plausible therapeutic option for the management of AOSD. Tocilizumab, the only anti-IL-6-receptor antagonist currently available for AOSD, has proved to be effective for the management of refractory AOSD patients, including those with life-threatening complications. Nevertheless, there are some reports describing patients who are refractory to any therapy. Future research should focus on the identification of prognostic biomarkers that help us to tailor an individualized treatment for each type of patient and in the search of new disease activity indices that help us to monitor the response to the therapy more closely.

Keywords: Adult-onset Still disease; anakinra; anti-IL6-receptor tocilizumab; anti-TNF-α drugs; biologics; glucocorticoids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / pharmacokinetics
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / immunology
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Still's Disease, Adult-Onset / diagnosis
  • Still's Disease, Adult-Onset / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6
  • tocilizumab