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The value of synovial cytokine expression in predicting the clinical response to TNF antagonist therapy (infliximab)

Lookup NU author(s): Professor John IsaacsORCiD


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Objectives. Clinical response to TNF-α blockade in the treatment of RA is heterogeneous. The study aims were to determine whether pre-treatment synovial cytokine expression predicted infliximab response and whether synovial changes after therapy correlated with response. Methods. Fifty-one patients had arthroscopic biopsies of the knee joint prior to infliximab (3 mg/kg) treatment. Synovial tissue cell numbers (CD68 and CD3 positive) and cytokine expression (TNF-α, lymphotoxin-α, IL-1α, -β and receptor antagonist, and IL-6) pre-treatment was assessed using semi-quantitative immunohistochemistry. Changes in these parameters were assessed 16 weeks after infliximab in 32 patients who underwent repeat arthroscopic biopsy. Results. Of the total patients, 47% (n = 24) achieved an ACR20 response; 53% (n = 27) did not. Baseline synovial TNF-α, IL-1α and -β expression did not differ between the two groups. No differences in baseline TNF-α levels were observed with ACR levels of response (ACR20 and ACR50/70 groups). Post-treatment biopsies (17 ACR responders, 15 ACR non-responders) revealed significant reductions in sub-lining layer TNF-α expression in both response and non-response groups with significant reduction in vascularity and membrane proliferation scores. The worst ACR non-responders (<20% CRP suppression) demonstrated no reduction in any of the parameters. Conclusion. Pre-treatment synovial TNF-α or IL-1 expression does not predict TNF blockade response. Both ACR response and non-response was associated with reduction in synovial TNF-α-level expression. Suppression in TNF-α levels was not observed in the worst non-responders. The improvements (including in vascularity), independent of ACR clinical response, are compatible with the reduced structural damage documented in all groups of patients independent of response. © The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Rheumatology. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Buch MH, Reece RJ, Quinn MA, English A, Cunnane G, Henshaw K, Bingham SJ, Bejarano V, Isaacs JD, Emery P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Rheumatology

Year: 2008

Volume: 47

Issue: 10

Pages: 1469-1475

ISSN (print): 1462-0324

ISSN (electronic): 1462-0332

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/rheumatology/ken261


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