Purpose of review: Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) have dramatically improved patient outcomes in juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). However, these medications may also result in physical, psychologic, and economic burden, which must be balanced with risk of flare off treatment. Although some children remain in remission after medication discontinuation, evidence is sparse for if, when, and how medications should be de-escalated once achieving clinically inactive disease (CID). We review the data on medication discontinuation and the role of serologic and imaging biomarkers in JIA.
Recent findings: The literature uniformly supports early biologic DMARD initiation, although the optimal timing and strategy for medication withdrawal in patients with sustained CID remains unclear. In this review, we present the current data on flare frequency and time to flare, clinical factors associated with flare, and recapture data for each JIA category. We also summarize the current knowledge on the role of imaging and serologic biomarkers in guiding these treatment decisions.
Summary: JIA is a heterogenous disease for which prospective clinical trials are needed to address the question of when, how, and in whom to withdraw medication. Research investigating the roles of serologic and imaging biomarkers may help improve the ability to ascertain which children can successfully de-escalate medications.
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