Sustained glucocorticoid tapering in the phase 3 trials of anifrolumab: a post-hoc analysis of the TULIP-1 and TULIP-2 trials

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2022 Aug 26;keac491. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keac491. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: Glucocorticoid sparing is a key priority for SLE management. We evaluated the effects of sustained glucocorticoid tapering in patients with SLE.

Methods: This was a post hoc analysis of the randomized, placebo-controlled, 52-week phase 3 TULIP-1 and TULIP-2 trials of anifrolumab (300 mg intravenously once every four weeks for 48 weeks) plus standard therapy in patients with moderate to severe SLE. In a cohort of patients receiving glucocorticoids (prednisone or equivalent) 10 mg or more per day at baseline, we assessed changes in glucocorticoid dosage, patient-reported outcomes (PROs) and safety. Outcome measures were compared between sustained glucocorticoid taper responders (7.5 mg or less per day by Week 40 sustained through Week 52) and non-responders, regardless of treatment group, and between patients receiving anifrolumab or placebo.

Results: Among the 726 patients in the TULIP trials, 375 patients received glucocorticoids 10 mg or more per day at baseline, and of these, 155 (41%) patients were sustained glucocorticoid taper responders. Compared with non-responders (n = 220), sustained glucocorticoid taper responders reduced their mean cumulative glucocorticoid dose by 32%, improved PRO scores, reduced blood pressure, and experienced fewer serious adverse events. Sustained glucocorticoid tapering was achieved by 51% (96/190) of patients receiving anifrolumab versus 32% (59/185) receiving placebo. Compared with placebo, more anifrolumab-treated patients achieved both sustained glucocorticoid taper and reduced overall disease activity (38% [72/190] vs 23% [33/185]).

Conclusion: Sustained glucocorticoid tapering is associated with clinical benefits. Anifrolumab treatment has potential to reduce disease activity and glucocorticoid exposure, a key goal of SLE management.

Trial registration: Identifier: NCT02446912 and NCT02446899.

Keywords: Systemic lupus erythematosus; biologics; cardiovascular; clinical trials; glucocorticoid sparing; glucocorticoids; patient-reported outcomes.

Associated data