Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory disorder characterized by pain and stiffness in the shoulders, hips, and proximal limbs; it usually affects elderly patients. The effectiveness of methotrexate and tocilizumab in PMR treatment has not been extensively studied. Thus, we aimed to assess the steroid-sparing effect of tocilizumab and methotrexate in PMR in clinical practice. Consecutive patients with PMR in our hospitals, who were included in our retrospective cohort, were reviewed between 2005 and 2015 and divided into the following groups according to their treatments: prednisolone or none (prednisolone group), methotrexate ± prednisolone (methotrexate group), or tocilizumab ± prednisolone (tocilizumab group). The prednisolone dose at the last follow-up was compared. A total of 227 patients with an average age of 74 years were enrolled. No difference in baseline characteristics was found among the three groups. The prednisolone dose at the last follow-up was lower (0 vs. 3.0 vs. 3.5 mg/day, p < 0.001) and the prednisolone discontinuation rate was higher (80.0% vs. 28.3% vs. 18.8%, p < 0.0001) in the tocilizumab group than in the prednisolone and methotrexate groups. This study suggested that tocilizumab has a steroid-sparing effect in PMR. Tocilizumab can be an option in the management of PMR. Future studies are warranted to confirm our findings.
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