Background: Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a pleiotropic cytokine that plays a key role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. Sarilumab is a human monoclonal antibody that binds membrane-bound and soluble IL-6 receptor-α to inhibit IL-6 signalling. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of sarilumab and adalimumab (a tumour necrosis factor alpha inhibitor) monotherapy on levels of circulating biomarkers associated with the acute-phase response, bone remodelling, atherothrombosis, anaemia of chronic disease and markers purported to reflect synovial lymphoid and myeloid cell infiltrates, as well as the potential of these biomarkers to differentially predict clinical and patient-reported outcomes with sarilumab vs. adalimumab.
Methods: In this post hoc analysis, serum samples were analysed at baseline and prespecified post-treatment timepoints up to week 24 in adults with moderate-to-severe active rheumatoid arthritis intolerant of or inadequate responders to methotrexate from the MONARCH trial (NCT02332590).
Results: Greater reductions in C-reactive protein (CRP; - 94.0% vs. -24.0%), serum amyloid A (SAA; - 83.2% vs. -17.4%), total receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL; - 18.3% vs. 10.5%) and lipoprotein (a) (- 41.0% vs. -2.8%) were observed at week 24 with sarilumab vs. adalimumab, respectively (adjusted p < 0.0001). Greater increases in procollagen type 1 N-terminal propeptide (P1NP) were observed with sarilumab vs. adalimumab at week 24 (22.8% vs. 6.2%, p = 0.027). Patients with high baseline SAA, CRP and matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3) were more likely to achieve clinical efficacy, including American College of Rheumatology 20% improvement criteria and Disease Activity Score (28 joints)-CRP < 3.2, and report improvements in patient-reported outcomes, including Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index and pain visual analogue scale, with sarilumab than adalimumab.
Conclusion: Sarilumab was associated with greater positive effects on bone remodelling and decreases in biomarkers of the acute-phase response, synovial inflammation and cardiovascular risk vs. adalimumab. High baseline concentrations of SAA, CRP and MMP-3 are predictive of clinical and patient-reported outcome responses to sarilumab treatment and prospective validation is warranted to confirm these results.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02332590. Registered on 5 January 2015.
Keywords: Acute-phase response; Biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug; Biomarkers; Bone remodelling; Cardiovascular risk; Rheumatoid arthritis; Sarilumab; Synovial inflammation.