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True infliximab resistance in rheumatoid arthritis: a role for lymphotoxin α?

By M.H. Buch, P. Conaghan, M.A. Quinn, S.J. Bingham, D. Veale and P. Emery


Background: The combination of methotrexate and the anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF) antibody infliximab is a very effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, a proportion of patients are not responsive to this treatment. Inefficacy may represent a TNF independent disease or insufficient drug at the site of action. \ud \ud Case report: A patient with RA resistant to repeated high dose infliximab infusions and intra-articular infliximab into an inflamed knee is described. No beneficial clinical effect was observed. Pre-injection arthroscopic biopsy of the study knee demonstrated TNF staining but also confirmed the presence of lymphotoxin (LT or TNFß) on immunohistochemistry. Subsequent treatment with etanercept (which blocks LT as well as TNF) resulted in clinical remission of disease. \ud \ud Conclusion: This case suggests that resistance to TNF blockade may occur when TNF is not the dominant inflammatory cytokine and suggests that LT may have a pathogenic role in RA

Publisher: BMJ
Year: 2004
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