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Recently we reported on a good clinical response at week 24, especially in tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-blocker-naive patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) who were treated with a first course of rituximab (two infusions of each 1000 mg of rituximab with 100 mg methylprednisolone at baseline and week 2).1
Here we report on the follow-up of these patients with a special focus on the good responders.
At week 24, patients regarded as responders were offered to be followed up and to receive a second course of rituximab in case of flare. A response was defined as reaching 20% improvement in disease activity according to the Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society criteria (ASAS20)2 compared with screening on at least two consecutive visits (out of four visits: week 12, week 16, week 20 and week 24). Flare was defined as a 1.5-point worsening of the Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI) compared to the lowest BASDAI between week 12 and week 24. Flare patients were then followed for another 48 weeks (between the flare visit (=R-baseline) and R-week …