Efficacy of Direct Injection of Etanercept into Knee Joints for Pain in Moderate and Severe Knee Osteoarthritis

Seiji Ohtori, Sumihisa Orita, Kazuyo Yamauchi, Yawara Eguchi, Nobuyasu Ochiai, Shunji Kishida, Kazuki Kuniyoshi, Yasuchika Aoki, Junichi Nakamura, Tetsuhiro Ishikawa, Masayuki Miyagi, Hiroto Kamoda, Miyako Suzuki, Gou Kubota, Yoshihiro Sakuma, Yasuhiro Oikawa, Kazuhide Inage, Takeshi Sainoh, Jun Sato, Yasuhiro Shiga, Koki Abe, Kazuki Fujimoto, Hiroto Kanamoto, Tomoaki Toyone, Gen Inoue, Kazuhisa Takahashi
Yonsei Medical Journal 2015, 56 (5): 1379-83

PURPOSE: Osteoarthritic (OA) pain is largely considered to be inflammatory pain. However, during the last stage of knee OA, sensory nerve fibers in the knee are shown to be significantly damaged when the subchondral bone junction is destroyed, and this can induce neuropathic pain. Several authors have reported that tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) in a knee joint plays a crucial role in pain modulation. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the efficacy of etanercept, a TNFα inhibitor, for pain in knee OA.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Thirty-nine patients with knee OA and a 2-4 Kellgren-Lawrence grading were evaluated in this prospective study. Patients were divided into two groups; hyaluronic acid (HA) and etanercept injection. All patients received a single injection into the knee. Pain scores were evaluated before and 4 weeks after injection using a visual analogue scale (VAS) and the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), and they were compared between the groups.

RESULTS: Before injection, VAS and WOMAC scores were not significantly different between the groups (p>0.05). Significant pain relief was found in the etanercept group at 1 and 2 weeks by VAS, and at 4 weeks by WOMAC score, compared with the HA group (p<0.05). No adverse events were observed in either group.

CONCLUSION: Direct injection of etanercept into OA knee joints was an effective treatment for pain in moderate and severe OA patients. Furthermore, this finding suggests that TNFα is one factor that induces OA pain.

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