Are tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors effective in the treatment of giant cell arteritis (GCA) (temporal arteritis)?

Updated: Sep 03, 2020
  • Author: Mythili Seetharaman, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors (eg, infliximab, etanercept) are being evaluated in clinical trials for the treatment of GCA. A randomized controlled trial showed that adding infliximab to steroids provided no measurable benefit in the management of newly diagnosed GCA. [152]

A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of etanercept in steroid-refractory GCA yielded mixed results. The study included 17 patients who required a stable dose of prednisone of 10 mg/d to maintain clinical remission and had at least one steroid-related adverse effect. After 12 months, more of the patients in the etanercept group had successfully discontinued prednisone (50% versus 22.2% of placebo patients), but the difference was not significant. No difference was noted in the number and type of adverse events. [153]

However, patients in the etanercept group did have a significantly lower cumulative dose of accumulated prednisone during the first year of treatment (p = 0.03). The researchers noted that a larger trial with longer follow-up is needed to determine the role of etanercept in GCA therapy. [153]

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