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Decreased incidence of anterior uveitis in patients with ankylosing spondylitis treated with the anti-tumor necrosis factor agents infliximab and etanercept.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the incidence of anterior uveitis in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) who underwent anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapy, using data from recently performed trials.

METHODS: Data from 4 placebo-controlled studies with anti-TNF agents in AS (2 with etanercept and 2 with infliximab) and 3 open-label studies were analyzed for the prestudy prevalence and the incidence of reported flares of anterior uveitis.

RESULTS: A total of 717 patients who received treatment for anterior uveitis during the course of published clinical studies were identified by a systematic literature search using Medline. Followup information on the course of anterior uveitis was available for 397 patients. Of these, 297 were exposed to etanercept and 90 were exposed to infliximab for a total of 430 and 146.4 years, respectively. Among 190 patients who received placebo, the overall exposure was 70.5 years. The frequency of flares of anterior uveitis in the placebo group was 15.6 per 100 patient-years (95% confidence interval 7.8-27.9), while the patients treated with anti-TNF agents had a mean of only 6.8 anterior uveitis flares per 100 patient-years (P = 0.01). Flares of anterior uveitis occurred less frequently (although not significantly) in patients treated with infliximab than in patients treated with etanercept (3.4 per 100 patient-years and 7.9 per 100 patient-years, respectively).

CONCLUSION: Treatment of AS patients with biologic agents directed against TNFalpha is associated with a significant decrease in the number of anterior uveitis flares. This reduction was slightly more marked among patients treated with infliximab, but the difference was not significant.

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