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      Biologics in the Treatment of Lupus Erythematosus: A Critical Literature Review

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      BioMed Research International
      Hindawi

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          Abstract

          Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disease affecting multiple organ systems that runs an unpredictable course and may present with a wide variety of clinical manifestations. Advances in treatment over the last decades, such as use of corticosteroids and conventional immunosuppressive drugs, have improved life expectancy of SLE sufferers. Unfortunately, in many cases effective management of SLE is still related to severe drug-induced toxicity and contributes to organ function deterioration and infective complications, particularly among patients with refractory disease and/or lupus nephritis. Consequently, there is an unmet need for drugs with a better efficacy and safety profile. A range of different biologic agents have been proposed and subjected to clinical trials, particularly dedicated to this subset of patients whose disease is inadequately controlled by conventional treatment regimes. Unfortunately, most of these trials have given unsatisfactory results, with belimumab being the only targeted therapy approved for the treatment of SLE so far. Despite these pitfalls, several novel biologic agents targeting B cells, T cells, or cytokines are constantly being evaluated in clinical trials. It seems that they may enhance the therapeutic efficacy when combined with standard therapies. These efforts raise the hope that novel drugs for patients with refractory SLE may be available in the near future. This article reviews the current biological therapies being tested in the treatment of SLE.

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          Most cited references102

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          Anifrolumab, an Anti–Interferon‐α Receptor Monoclonal Antibody, in Moderate‐to‐Severe Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

          Objective To assess the efficacy and safety of anifrolumab, a type I interferon (IFN) receptor antagonist, in a phase IIb, randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled study of adults with moderate‐to‐severe systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Methods Patients (n = 305) were randomized to receive intravenous anifrolumab (300 mg or 1,000 mg) or placebo, in addition to standard therapy, every 4 weeks for 48 weeks. Randomization was stratified by SLE Disease Activity Index 2000 score (<10 or ≥10), oral corticosteroid dosage (<10 or ≥10 mg/day), and type I IFN gene signature test status (high or low) based on a 4‐gene expression assay. The primary end point was the percentage of patients achieving an SLE Responder Index (SRI[4]) response at week 24 with sustained reduction of oral corticosteroids (<10 mg/day and less than or equal to the dose at week 1 from week 12 through 24). Other end points (including SRI[4], British Isles Lupus Assessment Group [BILAG]–based Composite Lupus Assessment [BICLA], modified SRI[6], and major clinical response) were assessed at week 52. The primary end point was analyzed in the modified intent‐to‐treat (ITT) population and type I IFN–high subpopulation. The study result was considered positive if the primary end point was met in either of the 2 study populations. The Type I error rate was controlled at 0.10 (2‐sided), within each of the 2 study populations for the primary end point analysis. Results The primary end point was met by more patients treated with anifrolumab (34.3% of 99 for 300 mg and 28.8% of 104 for 1,000 mg) than placebo (17.6% of 102) (P = 0.014 for 300 mg and P = 0.063 for 1,000 mg, versus placebo), with greater effect size in patients with a high IFN signature at baseline (13.2% in placebo‐treated patients versus 36.0% [P = 0.004] and 28.2% [P = 0.029]) in patients treated with anifrolumab 300 mg and 1,000 mg, respectively. At week 52, patients treated with anifrolumab achieved greater responses in SRI(4) (40.2% versus 62.6% [P < 0.001] and 53.8% [P = 0.043] with placebo, anifrolumab 300 mg, and anifrolumab 1,000 mg, respectively), BICLA (25.7% versus 53.5% [P < 0.001] and 41.2% [P = 0.018], respectively), modified SRI(6) (28.4% versus 49.5% [P = 0.002] and 44.7% [P = 0.015], respectively), major clinical response (BILAG 2004 C or better in all organ domains from week 24 through week 52) (6.9% versus 19.2% [P = 0.012] and 17.3% [P = 0.025], respectively), and several other global and organ‐specific end points. Herpes zoster was more frequent in the anifrolumab‐treated patients (2.0% with placebo treatment versus 5.1% and 9.5% with anifrolumab 300 mg and 1,000 mg, respectively), as were cases reported as influenza (2.0% versus 6.1% and 7.6%, respectively), in the anifrolumab treatment groups. Incidence of serious adverse events was similar between groups (18.8% versus 16.2% and 17.1%, respectively). Conclusion Anifrolumab substantially reduced disease activity compared with placebo across multiple clinical end points in the patients with moderate‐to‐severe SLE.
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            BAFF, a Novel Ligand of the Tumor Necrosis Factor Family, Stimulates B Cell Growth

            Members of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family induce pleiotropic biological responses, including cell growth, differentiation, and even death. Here we describe a novel member of the TNF family, designated BAFF (for B cell activating factor belonging to the TNF family), which is expressed by T cells and dendritic cells. Human BAFF was mapped to chromosome 13q32-34. Membrane-bound BAFF was processed and secreted through the action of a protease whose specificity matches that of the furin family of proprotein convertases. The expression of BAFF receptor appeared to be restricted to B cells. Both membrane-bound and soluble BAFF induced proliferation of anti-immunoglobulin M–stimulated peripheral blood B lymphocytes. Moreover, increased amounts of immunoglobulins were found in supernatants of germinal center–like B cells costimulated with BAFF. These results suggest that BAFF plays an important role as costimulator of B cell proliferation and function.
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              Activation of the interferon-alpha pathway identifies a subgroup of systemic lupus erythematosus patients with distinct serologic features and active disease.

              Gene-expression studies have demonstrated increased expression of interferon (IFN)-inducible genes (IFIGs) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of many patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), with a predominant effect of type I IFN. This study examined the hypothesis that increased disease severity and activity, as well as distinct autoantibody specificities, characterize SLE patients with activation of the type I IFN pathway. Freshly isolated PBMCs from 77 SLE patients, 22 disease controls, and 28 healthy donors were subjected to real-time polymerase chain reaction for 3 IFIGs that are preferentially induced by IFNalpha, and the data were used to derive IFNalpha scores for all individuals. Expression of IFIGs was significantly higher in SLE patients compared with disease controls or healthy donors. SLE patients with high and low IFNalpha scores were compared for clinical manifestations of disease, disease severity, disease activity, serologic features, and potential confounders, by bivariate and multivariate analyses. SLE patients with a high IFNalpha score had a significantly higher prevalence of renal disease, a greater number of American College of Rheumatology criteria for SLE, and a higher Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics damage index (SDI) score than did SLE patients with low IFNalpha scores. Patients with high scores showed increased disease activity, as measured by lower C3 levels, hemoglobin levels, absolute lymphocyte counts, and albumin levels, and a higher anti-double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) titer, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and SLE Disease Activity Index 2000 score. The presence of antibodies specific for Ro, U1 RNP, Sm, and dsDNA, but not phospholipids, was significantly associated with a high IFNalpha score. Logistic regression analysis confirmed that renal disease, higher SDI scores, low complement levels, and presence of anti-RNA binding protein (RBP) autoantibodies were associated with a high IFNalpha score. Activation of the IFNalpha pathway defines a subgroup of SLE patients whose condition is characterized by increased disease severity, including renal disease, increased disease activity, reflected in complement activation, and autoreactivity to RBP.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Biomed Res Int
                Biomed Res Int
                BMRI
                BioMed Research International
                Hindawi
                2314-6133
                2314-6141
                2019
                18 July 2019
                : 2019
                : 8142368
                Affiliations
                Department of Dermatology, University of Rzeszow, ul. Fryderyka Szopena 2, 35-055 Rzeszow, Poland
                Author notes

                Academic Editor: Nobuo Kanazawa

                Author information
                https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5573-1754
                Article
                10.1155/2019/8142368
                6668536
                31396534
                d9602560-46e8-4829-96c8-6822399f3e03
                Copyright © 2019 Dominik Samotij and Adam Reich.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                History
                : 7 May 2019
                : 18 June 2019
                Categories
                Review Article

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