Belimumab versus anifrolumab in adults with systemic lupus erythematosus: an indirect comparison of clinical response at 52 weeks

Lupus Sci Med. 2023 May;10(1):e000907. doi: 10.1136/lupus-2023-000907.


Objective: To generate comparative efficacy evidence of belimumab versus anifrolumab in SLE that can inform treatment practices.

Methods: The SLE Responder Index (SRI)-4 response at 52 weeks of belimumab versus anifrolumab was evaluated with an indirect treatment comparison. The evidence base consisted of randomised trials that were compiled through a systemic literature review.A feasibility assessment was performed to comprehensively compare the eligible trials and to determine the most appropriate indirect treatment comparison analysis method. A multilevel network meta-regression (ML-NMR) was implemented that adjusted for differences across trials in four baseline characteristics: SLE Disease Activity Index-2K, anti-double-stranded DNA antibody positive, low complement (C)3 and low C4. Additional analyses were conducted to explore if the results were robust to different sets of baseline characteristics included for adjustment, alternative adjustment methods and changes to the trials included in the evidence base.

Results: The ML-NMR included eight trials: five belimumab trials (BLISS-52, BLISS-76, NEA, BLISS-SC, EMBRACE) and three anifrolumab trials (MUSE, TULIP-1, TULIP-2). Belimumab and anifrolumab were comparable in terms of SRI-4 response (OR (95% credible interval), 1.04 (0.74-1.45)), with the direction of the point estimate slightly favouring belimumab. Belimumab had a 0.58 probability of being the more effective treatment. The results were highly consistent across all analysis scenarios.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the SRI-4 response of belimumab and anifrolumab are similar at 52 weeks in the general SLE population, but the level of uncertainty around the point estimate means we cannot rule out the possibility of a clinically meaningful benefit for either treatment. It remains to be seen if specific groups of patients could derive a greater benefit from anifrolumab or from belimumab, and there is certainly an unmet need to identify robust predictors towards more personalised selection of available biological agents in SLE.

Keywords: Antirheumatic Agents; Biological Products; Outcome Assessment, Health Care; Therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / drug therapy
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • belimumab
  • anifrolumab
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized