ISSN 2147-9720 | E-ISSN 2148-4279
Original Article
The Real-World Use of Different Anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor Agents in a Northern European Population of Patients with Behçet’s Disease
1 Department of Rheumatology, University Hospital Limerick, Limerick, Ireland; Medical School of Graduate Entry, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland  
2 Department of Rheumatology, University Hospital Limerick, Limerick, Ireland.  
3 Department of Nephrology, University Hospital Limerick, Limerick, Ireland; Medical School of Graduate Entry, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland.  
Eur J Rheumatol ; : -
DOI: 10.5152/eurjrheum.2017.17046
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Key Words: Behçet’s disease, Behçet’s syndrome, biologics, anti-TNF, TNF-alpha

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate prescription practices, treatment responses, and serious adverse events of anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapies in Behçet’s disease (BD).


Material and Methods: Patients with BD satisfying the International Study Group for Behçet’s Disease or the International Criteria for Behçet’s Disease criteria were recruited from a regional rheumatology program. The choice of anti-TNF, treatment response, and adverse events were specified. Response to treatment was evaluated by the detection of new, worsening, or improving clinical features, and management was benchmarked against current The European League against Rheumatism recommendations published in 2008.


Results: Out of the total of 22 patients, 18 (81.9%) received anti-TNF therapies, resulting in 14 (77.8%) complete and 4 (22.2%) partial remissions. Eleven (61.1%) patients switched to a second anti-TNF, seven patients (38.9%) required three different anti-TNFs, and one required a fourth anti-TNF to achieve remission. Two patients required retrials before their disease was controlled. Anti-TNF therapy included infliximab (IFX): n=15, 83.3%; adalimumab (ADA): n=9, 50%; golimumab: n=6, 33.3%; etanercept: n=5, 27.8%; and certolizumab pegol: n=2, 11.1%. Secondary failure was observed with IFX (4/15; 26.7%) and ADA (2/9; 22.2%), and these (100%) were manifested after at least 2 years of treatment. Five patients with potentially life-threatening laryngeal involvement received anti-TNFs successfully halting disease progression. Five allergic reactions were encountered, and five serious infections were documented involving three patients aged ≥ 50 years, all with the use of IFX.


Conclusion: Anti-TNF therapy induced a clinical response in 100% patients and achieved complete remission in 78% patients. It provides an effective alternative option for first-line therapy in severe BD where many conventional immunosuppressive therapies fail. Patients with BD who do not respond to one or more anti-TNFs because of intolerance, ineffectiveness, or secondary failure might benefit from switching to another drug from this group or even a retrial of a previously administered anti-TNF because unsatisfactory results with one biologic is not predictive of response to another anti-TNF. For those with potentially life-threatening destructive laryngeal manifestation, anti-TNF as a first choice may be considered.


Cite this article as: Adeeb F, Ng WL, Khan MU, Devlin J, Stack AG, Fraser AD. The real-world use of different anti-tumor necrosis factor agents in a Northern European population of patients with Behçet’s disease. Eur J Rheumatol 2017; DOI: 10.5152/eurjrheum.2017.17046


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