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Tocilizumab and refractory Takayasu disease: Four case reports and systematic review.

BACKGROUND: Relapses upon corticosteroids tapering and immunosuppressive agents are frequent in Takayasu arteritis (TA). Interleukin-6 is highly involved in physiopathology of TA. Many reports showed efficacy of tocilizumab (TCZ) in refractory TA cases. We report four cases and an updated literature review on the TCZ efficacy and safety in patients with TA.

METHODS: Patients with TA defined by ACR 1990 criteria were included. Clinical, biological and imaging data were retrospectively reported. Disease activity was analyzed before TCZ and during the follow-up. Medline database was searched for systematic literature review.

RESULTS: One hundred and five patients (median age 28years [22-38]) were included, mostly refractory cases (76 patients, 72%). Median TCZ duration was 12months [6-20]. Among 105 patients, 90 patients (85.7%) had an initial clinical response within three months [3-6] and 43/66 patients (65.2%) had a radiological improvement. Only seven patients (9%) showed relapse on therapy. Corticosteroid dose reduction was obtained in 75/83 patients (90.4%). Relapse after TCZ discontinuation was observed in six patients (46%), with a median time of five months [2-9]. Twenty-four side-effects were noted in 18 patients (18%), with TCZ interruption in seven cases (7%): 10 infections, five cytopenia, six hepatitis, one pancreatitis, one cutaneous rash and one breast cancer.

CONCLUSIONS: This review confirms that TCZ is safe and effective in refractory cases of TA and TCZ is a corticosteroid-sparing therapy in patients with or without previous TNFα blockers therapy. However relapses after TCZ discontinuation are frequent.

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