Background: Tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors enable tight control of disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Discontinuation of TNF inhibitors after acquisition of low disease activity (LDA) is important for safety and economic reasons. Objective: To determine whether infliximab might be discontinued after achievement of LDA in patients with RA and to evaluate progression of articular destruction during the discontinuation. Methods: 114 patients with RA who had received infliximab treatment, and whose Disease Activity Score, including a 28-joint count (DAS28) was <3.2 (LDA) for 24 weeks, were studied. Results: The mean disease duration of the 114 patients was 5.9 years, mean DAS28 5.5 and mean modified total Sharp score (mTSS) 63.3. After maintaining LDA for >24 weeks by infliximab treatment, the drug was discontinued and DAS28 in 102 patients was evaluated at year 1. Fifty-six patients (55%) continued to have DAS28<3.2 and 43% reached DAS<2.6 at 1 year after discontinuing infliximab. For 46 patients remission induction by Remicade in RA (RRR) failed: disease in 29 patients flared within 1 year and DAS28 was >3.2 at year 1 in 17 patients. Yearly progression of mTSS (ΔTSS) remained <0.5 in 67% and 44% of the RRR-achieved and RRR-failed groups, respectively. The estimated ΔmTSS was 0.3 and 1.6 and Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index was 0.174 and 0.614 in the RRR-achieved and RRR-failed groups, respectively, 1 year after the discontinuation. Conclusion: After attaining LDA by infliximab, 56 (55%) of the 102 patients with RA were able to discontinue infliximab for >1 year without progression of radiological articular destruction.
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