Guselkumab demonstrated an independent treatment effect in reducing fatigue after adjustment for clinical response-results from two phase 3 clinical trials of 1120 patients with active psoriatic arthritis

Arthritis Res Ther. 2021 Jul 14;23(1):190. doi: 10.1186/s13075-021-02554-3.


Background: The interleukin-23p19-subunit inhibitor guselkumab effectively treats signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis (PsA). We evaluated the effect of guselkumab on fatigue.

Methods: Across two phase 3 trials of guselkumab (DISCOVER-1, DISCOVER-2), patients with active PsA despite standard therapy were randomized to subcutaneous injections of guselkumab 100 mg every 4 weeks (Q4W, N = 373); guselkumab 100 mg at week 0, week 4, and then Q8W (N = 375); or placebo (N = 372) through week 24, after which patients in the placebo group crossed over to guselkumab Q4W. Fatigue was measured as a secondary endpoint using the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (FACIT)-Fatigue instrument (range 0-52, higher scores indicate less fatigue). Least-squares mean changes in FACIT-Fatigue scores were compared between treatments using a mixed-effect model for repeated measures. Mediation analysis was used to adjust for indirect effects on fatigue deriving from improvement in other outcomes, including ≥20% improvement in American College of Rheumatology criteria (ACR20; prespecified), minimal disease activity (MDA; post hoc), or C-reactive protein (CRP; post hoc).

Results: Baseline mean (SD) FACIT-Fatigue scores in DISCOVER-1 (N = 381) and DISCOVER-2 (N = 739), ranging from 29.1 (9.5) to 31.4 (10.1), indicated substantial levels of fatigue relative to the United States general population (43.6 [9.4]). Across studies, mean improvements, and proportions of patients with ≥4-point improvements, in FACIT-Fatigue scores at week 24 with guselkumab Q4W and Q8W (5.6-7.6 and 54-63%, respectively) were larger vs placebo (2.2-3.6 and 35-46%). Improvement in FACIT-Fatigue scores with guselkumab was sustained from week 24 to week 52, with moderate-to-large effect sizes (Cohen's d = 0.52-0.81 at week 24; 0.66-0.91 at week 52). Mediation analyses demonstrated that substantial proportions of the effects of guselkumab vs placebo on fatigue were direct effect, after adjusting for achievement of ACR20 (Q4W 69-70%, Q8W 12-36% direct effect) or MDA (72-92% across dosing regimens) response or for change in serum CRP concentrations (82-88% across dosing regimens).

Conclusions: In patients with active PsA, guselkumab 100 mg Q4W or Q8W led to clinically meaningful and sustained improvements in fatigue through 1 year. A substantial portion of the improvement in FACIT-Fatigue scores induced by guselkumab was independent of effects on the achievement of other select outcomes.

Trial registration: Name of the registry: Trial registrations: DISCOVER-1, NCT03162796; DISCOVER-2, NCT03158285 Date of registration: DISCOVER-1, May 22, 2017; DISCOVER-2, May 18, 2017 URLs of the trial registry record: DISCOVER-1, DISCOVER-2,

Keywords: Biologic; Fatigue; Interleukin-23; Mediation analysis; Patient-reported outcome; Psoriatic arthritis; p19 subunit.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antirheumatic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Psoriatic* / drug therapy
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatigue / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • guselkumab

Associated data