Clinical and ultrasound evaluation of the response to tocilizumab treatment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a case series

Oscar Epis, Emilio Filippucci, Andrea Delle Sedie, Anna De Matthaeis, Eleonora Bruschi
Rheumatology International 2014, 34 (5): 737-42
This case series evaluates the clinical and ultrasound response to tocilizumab treatment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Six patients with active RA (DAS28 ≥ 3.2) for ≥6 months, refractory to conventional DMARDs or anti-TNF agents, received tocilizumab 8 mg/kg every 4 weeks, as monotherapy or in combination with DMARDs, for 6 months. The following clinical parameters were assessed monthly: number of tender joints (28 and 44 joints), number of swollen joints (28 and 44 joints), DAS28-ESR, DAS28-CRP, VAS score, global health status, health assessment questionnaire, patient global assessment of disease activity, physician global assessment of disease activity, functional assessment of chronic illness therapy (FACIT), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and C-reactive protein (CRP). All patients also underwent a gray-scale ultrasonography (US) assessment with power Doppler evaluation at each visit. All clinical parameters improved during the study, versus baseline. This improvement was statistically significant for most parameters 2 months following tocilizumab initiation and was sustained to the end of the observation period. The number of tender joints (44-joint evaluation), the FACIT score, and ESR and CRP concentrations were significantly improved versus baseline values after the first month of tocilizumab treatment. The course of US evaluations mirrored that of clinical parameters; a faster and more evident response was observed for foot joints, with respect to hand joints. This case series suggested the rapid clinical benefit of tocilizumab. Ultrasound assessment showed that the onset of this effect was faster in the foot joints than in the hand joints.

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