Purpose: To evaluate the effect and safety of the oral administration of retinal antigens as a treatment of ocular inflammation.
Methods: In a phase I/II randomized masked trial, patients with endogenous uveitis who were dependent on immunosuppressive agents were randomly assigned to receive either retinal S antigen alone (10 patients), retinal S antigen and a mixture of soluble retinal antigens (10 patients), a mixture of soluble retinal antigens alone (10 patients), or placebo (15 patients). An attempt was then made to taper patients completely off their standard immunosuppressive therapy over an 8 week period. The primary study endpoint was time to ocular inflammatory attack. The secondary study endpoint was the ability to taper patients completely off their immunosuppressive or cytotoxic medication within 8 weeks.
Results: Time to development of the main study endpoint was not statistically significantly different for any of the four treatment groups. However, the group receiving the purified S antigen alone appeared to be tapered off their immunosuppressive medication more successfully compared with patients given placebo (P = .08), whereas all the other groups appeared to do worse than did those receiving placebo. No toxic effects attributable to any treatment were observed.
Conclusions: This phase I/II study is the first to test the use of orally administered S antigen in the treatment of uveitis. Although not statistically significant, patients given S antigen were more likely to be tapered off their chronically administered systemic immunosuppressive therapy than were the other groups tested.