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      Tocilizumab in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and beyond

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          Abstract

          Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic inflammatory disease characterized by joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and progressive destruction of the small joints of the hands and feet. Treatment of RA has improved over the past decade. With multiple cytokines well-known now to play a role in the pathogenesis of RA, including tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin (IL)-1β, and IL-6, many targeted biological treatments against these cytokines have emerged, changing the treatment of this disease. Tocilizumab (TCZ) is a recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody against the IL-6 receptor and has been approved in many countries, including the United States, for the treatment of moderate to severe RA in patients who have not adequately responded to one or more disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or cannot tolerate other approved drug classes for RA. The aim of this review is to discuss the role of IL-6 in RA, and to provide an overview of the mode of action, pharmacokinetics, and safety of TCZ. Furthermore, efficacy studies of TCZ as both monotherapy and combination therapy will be evaluated. There have been several important clinical trials evaluating the efficacy and safety of TCZ in RA patients; this review summarizes this data from 14 key trials with emphasis on Phase III trials. Review of these trials provides strong evidence that its use, both as monotherapy and in combination with methotrexate or other DMARDs, is an effective treatment in reducing the signs and symptoms of RA. TCZ showed tolerable safety but care is required for its use since there are some important safety concerns including elevated liver enzymes, elevated low-density lipoprotein, infections, and gastrointestinal perforations. Additionally, given the efficacy of TCZ in the treatment of RA, this review discusses how TCZ may be beneficial in the treatment of other autoimmune diseases, spinal disease, cardiovascular disease, organ transplantation, and malignancies where elevated levels of IL-6 may play a role in the pathogenesis of these diseases.

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          Most cited references 64

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          Effect of interleukin-6 receptor inhibition with tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (OPTION study): a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised trial.

          Interleukin 6 is involved in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis via its broad effects on immune and inflammatory responses. Our aim was to assess the therapeutic effects of blocking interleukin 6 by inhibition of the interleukin-6 receptor with tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In this double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled, parallel group phase III study, 623 patients with moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis were randomly assigned with an interactive voice response system, stratified by site with a randomisation list provided by the study sponsor, to receive tocilizumab 8 mg/kg (n=205), tocilizumab 4 mg/kg (214), or placebo (204) intravenously every 4 weeks, with methotrexate at stable pre-study doses (10-25 mg/week). Rescue therapy with tocilizumab 8 mg/kg was offered at week 16 to patients with less than 20% improvement in both swollen and tender joint counts. The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients with 20% improvement in signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis according to American College of Rheumatology criteria (ACR20 response) at week 24. Analyses were by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00106548. The intention-to-treat analysis population consisted of 622 patients: one patient in the 4 mg/kg group did not receive study treatment and was thus excluded. At 24 weeks, ACR20 responses were seen in more patients receiving tocilizumab than in those receiving placebo (120 [59%] patients in the 8 mg/kg group, 102 [48%] in the 4 mg/kg group, 54 [26%] in the placebo group; odds ratio 4.0 [95% CI 2.6-6.1], p<0.0001 for 8 mg/kg vs placebo; and 2.6 [1.7-3.9], p<0.0001 for 4 mg/kg vs placebo). More people receiving tocilizumab than those receiving placebo had at least one adverse event (143 [69%] in the 8 mg/kg group; 151 [71%] in the 4 mg/kg group; 129 [63%] in the placebo group). The most common serious adverse events were serious infections or infestations, reported by six patients in the 8 mg/kg group, three in the 4 mg/kg group, and two in the placebo group. Tocilizumab could be an effective therapeutic approach in patients with moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis. F Hoffmann-La Roche, Chugai Pharmaceutical.
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            American College of Rheumatology. Preliminary definition of improvement in rheumatoid arthritis.

            Trials of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatments report the average response in multiple outcome measures for treated patients. It is more clinically relevant to test whether individual patients improve with treatment, and this identifies a single primary efficacy measure. Multiple definitions of improvement are currently in use in different trials. The goal of this study was to promulgate a single definition for use in RA trials. Using the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) core set of outcome measures for RA trials, we tested 40 different definitions of improvement, using a 3-step process. First, we performed a survey of rheumatologists, using actual patient cases from trials, to evaluate which definitions corresponded best to rheumatologists' impressions of improvement, eliminating most candidate definitions of improvement. Second, we tested 20 remaining definitions to determine which maximally discriminated effective treatment from placebo treatment and also minimized placebo response rates. With 8 candidate definitions of improvement remaining, we tested to see which were easiest to use and were best in accord with rheumatologists' impressions of improvement. The following definition of improvement was selected: 20% improvement in tender and swollen joint counts and 20% improvement in 3 of the 5 remaining ACR core set measures: patient and physician global assessments, pain, disability, and an acute-phase reactant. Additional validation of this definition was carried out in a comparative trial, and the results suggest that the definition is statistically powerful and does not identify a large percentage of placebo-treated patients as being improved. We present a definition of improvement which we hope will be used widely in RA trials.
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              Interleukin-6: from basic science to medicine--40 years in immunology.

              This essay summarizes my 40 years of research in immunology. As a young physician, I encountered a patient with Waldenström's macroglobulinemia, and this inspired me to study the structure of IgM. I began to ask how antibody responses are regulated. In the late 1960s, the essential role of T cells in antibody production had been reported. In search of molecules mediating T cell helper function, I discovered activities in the culture supernatant of T cells that induced proliferation and differentiation of B cells. This led to my life's work: studying one of those factors, interleukin-6 (IL-6). To my surprise, IL-6 turned out to play additional roles, including myeloma growth factor and hepatocyte-stimulating factor activities. More importantly, it was involved in a number of diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Castleman's disease. I feel exceptionally fortunate that my work not only revealed the framework of cytokine signaling, including identification of the IL-6 receptor, gp130, NF-IL6, STAT3, and SOCS-1, but also led to the development of a new therapy for chronic inflammatory diseases.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                1177-8881
                2014
                28 March 2014
                : 8
                : 349-364
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Rheumatology, Pharmacy, Transplant, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
                [2 ]Department of Nephrology and Rheumatology, University Medicine Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany
                [3 ]Anesthesia and Pain Management, King Hussein Cancer Center, Amman, Jordan
                [4 ]Liver Transplant, Kidney Transplant Royal Medical Services, Jordan
                [5 ]Cardiac Surgery Methodist Hospitals, Merrillville, IN, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Nadera J Sweiss, 1801 W Taylor, Suite 3C, Chicago, IL, USA 60612, Email: nsweiss@ 123456uic.edu
                Article
                dddt-8-349
                10.2147/DDDT.S41437
                3974690
                24729685
                © 2014 Shetty et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Categories
                Review

                Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical medicine

                il-6, tocilizumab, rheumatoid arthritis, biologics

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