Effective treatment of TNFα inhibitors in Chinese patients with Blau syndrome

Arthritis Res Ther. 2019 Nov 12;21(1):236. doi: 10.1186/s13075-019-2017-5.


Objectives: Blau syndrome (BS) is a rare dominantly inherited autoinflammatory disorder associated with mutations in the nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain containing 2 (NOD2) gene. Biologic therapy of BS yielded diverse results. We aimed to evaluate clinical features and outcomes of Chinese patients with BS who were treated with tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α inhibitors.

Methods: A total of four patients with BS were diagnosed and treated with infliximab (IFX) at the Peking Union Medical College Hospital during 2015 to 2018 and were followed up for 18 months. All patients were systematically studied for treatment outcomes including the clinical manifestations and inflammatory markers. We also conducted a comprehensive literature review about TNFα inhibitor therapy in BS.

Results: Four BS patients were all Chinese Han, and three were women. The mean age of disease onset was 4 ± 3.5 years, and the mean time of diagnosis delay was 19 ± 11 years. All patients received IFX plus methotrexate, and all achieved clinical remission of skin lesions and polyarthritis rapidly, as well as normalization of erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein and improvements in inflammatory cytokines, patient visual analogue scale, physician global assessment, and Short Form (SF)-36, at the first follow-up of 6 months. The disease relapsed in two patients after they lengthened the interval of IFX and discontinued methotrexate. According to the 38 English-language publications, 62 patients with BS were reported who underwent TNFα inhibitor therapy, including IFX used in 31, adalimumab in 24, and etanercept in 7. IFX was well tolerated in 27 patients, while 2 still had uveitis, and the other 2 experienced an adverse drug reaction.

Conclusions: Early recognition and effective treatment of BS are very important to avoid irreversible organ damage. TNFα inhibitors such as IFX may be a promising approach for BS patients who have unsatisfactory response to corticosteroids and traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.

Keywords: Blau syndrome; Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain; Systemic autoinflammatory diseases; TNFα inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antirheumatic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis / diagnosis
  • Arthritis / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis / genetics*
  • Asian People / genetics*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infliximab / pharmacology
  • Infliximab / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Pedigree
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Synovitis / diagnosis
  • Synovitis / drug therapy*
  • Synovitis / genetics*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Uveitis / diagnosis
  • Uveitis / drug therapy*
  • Uveitis / genetics*


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Infliximab

Supplementary concepts

  • Blau syndrome