Therapeutic efficacy of multiple intravenous infusions of anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha monoclonal antibody combined with low-dose weekly methotrexate in rheumatoid arthritis.
Maini RN., Breedveld FC., Kalden JR., Smolen JS., Davis D., Macfarlane JD., Antoni C., Leeb B., Elliott MJ., Woody JN., Schaible TF., Feldmann M.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy, pharmacokinetics, immunogenicity, and safety of multiple infusions of a chimeric monoclonal anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha antibody (cA2) (infliximab; Remicade, Centocor, Malvern, PA) given alone or in combination with low-dose methotrexate (MTX) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. METHODS: In a 26-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial, 101 patients with active RA exhibiting an incomplete response or flare of disease activity while receiving low-dose MTX were randomized to 1 of 7 groups of 14-15 patients each. The patients received either intravenous cA2 at 1, 3, or 10 mg/kg, with or without MTX 7.5 mg/week, or intravenous placebo plus MTX 7.5 mg/week at weeks 0, 2, 6, 10, and 14 and were followed up through week 26. RESULTS: Approximately 60% of patients receiving cA2 at 3 or 10 mg/kg with or without MTX achieved the 20% Paulus criteria for response to treatment, for a median duration of 10.4 to >18.1 weeks (P < 0.001 versus placebo). Patients receiving cA2 at 1 mg/kg without MTX became unresponsive to repeated infusions of cA2 (median duration 2.6 weeks; P=0.126 versus placebo). However, coadministration of cA2 at 1 mg/kg with MTX appeared to be synergistic, prolonging the duration of the 20% response in >60% of patients to a median of 16.5 weeks (P < 0.001 versus placebo; P=0.006 versus no MTX) and the 50% response to 12.2 weeks (P < 0.001 versus placebo; P=0.002 versus no MTX). Patients receiving placebo infusions plus suboptimal low-dose MTX continued to have active disease, with a Paulus response lasting a median of 0 weeks. A 70-90% reduction in the swollen joint count, tender joint count, and C-reactive protein level was maintained for the entire 26 weeks in patients receiving 10 mg/kg of cA2 with MTX. In general, treatment was well tolerated and stable blood levels of cA2 were achieved in all groups, except for the group receiving 1 mg/kg of cA2 alone, at which dosage antibodies to cA2 were observed in approximately 50% of the patients. CONCLUSION: Multiple infusions of cA2 were effective and well tolerated, with the best results occurring at 3 and 10 mg/kg either alone or in combination with MTX in approximately 60% of patients with active RA despite therapy with low-dose MTX. When cA2 at 1 mg/kg was given with low-dose MTX, synergy was observed. The results of the trial provide a strategy for further evaluation of the efficacy and safety of longer-term treatment with cA2.