Concordance and discordance in SLE clinical trial outcome measures: analysis of three anifrolumab phase 2/3 trials

Ann Rheum Dis. 2022 Jul;81(7):962-969. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2021-221847. Epub 2022 May 17.


Objectives: In the anifrolumab systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) trial programme, there was one trial (TULIP-1) in which BILAG-based Composite Lupus Assessment (BICLA) responses favoured anifrolumab over placebo, but the SLE Responder Index (SRI(4)) treatment difference was not significant. We investigated the degree of concordance between BICLA and SRI(4) across anifrolumab trials in order to better understand drivers of discrepant SLE trial results.

Methods: TULIP-1, TULIP-2 (both phase 3) and MUSE (phase 2b) were randomised, 52-week trials of intravenous anifrolumab (300 mg every 4 weeks, 48 weeks; TULIP-1/TULIP-2: n=180; MUSE: n=99) or placebo (TULIP-1: n=184, TULIP-2: n=182; MUSE: n=102). Week 52 BICLA and SRI(4) outcomes were assessed for each patient.

Results: Most patients (78%-85%) had concordant BICLA and SRI(4) outcomes (Cohen's Kappa 0.6-0.7, nominal p<0.001). Dual BICLA/SRI(4) response rates favoured anifrolumab over placebo in TULIP-1, TULIP-2 and MUSE (all nominal p≤0.004). A discordant TULIP-1 BICLA non-responder/SRI(4) responder subgroup was identified (40/364, 11% of TULIP-1 population), comprising more patients receiving placebo (n=28) than anifrolumab (n=12). In this subgroup, placebo-treated patients had lower baseline disease activity, joint counts and glucocorticoid tapering rates, and more placebo-treated patients had arthritis response than anifrolumab-treated patients.

Conclusions: Across trials, most patients had concordant BICLA/SRI(4) outcomes and dual BICLA/SRI(4) responses favoured anifrolumab. A BICLA non-responder/SRI(4) responder subgroup was identified where imbalances of key factors driving the BICLA/SRI(4) discordance (disease activity, glucocorticoid taper) disproportionately favoured the TULIP-1 placebo group. Careful attention to baseline disease activity and monitoring glucocorticoid taper variation will be essential in future SLE trials.

Trial registration numbers: NCT02446912 and NCT02446899.

Keywords: Autoimmune Diseases; Biological Therapy; Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alprostadil / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Glucocorticoids* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / drug therapy
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Glucocorticoids
  • anifrolumab
  • Alprostadil

Associated data