Objectives To examine the safety and efficacy of rontalizumab, a humanised IgG1 anti-interferon α (anti-IFN-α) monoclonal antibody, in patients with moderate-to-severe systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods Patients with active SLE were randomised (2:1) to 750 mg intravenous rontalizumab every 4 weeks or placebo (Part 1), and 300 mg subcutaneous rontalizumab every 2 weeks or placebo (Part 2).
Background Hydroxychloroquine and corticosteroids were allowed. Patients taking immunosuppressants at baseline were required per protocol to discontinue. Efficacy end points included reduction in disease activity by British Isles Lupus Disease Activity Group (BILAG)-2004 (primary), and SLE response index (SRI, secondary) at Week 24. Efficacy was also examined by an exploratory measure of IFN-regulated gene expression (interferon signature metric, ISM).
Results Patients (n=238) received rontalizumab (n=159) or placebo (n=79). At baseline, the mean Safety of Estrogens in Lupus Erythematosus National Assessment version of the SLE Disease Activity Index (SELENA-SLEDAI) score in all cohorts was ∼10, and 75.6% of patients had a high ISM (ISM-High). Efficacy response rates by BILAG and SRI were similar between rontalizumab and placebo groups. However, in the exploratory subgroup of ISM-Low patients, SRI response was higher and steroid use was lower in the rontalizumab-treated patients. There was also a reduction in SELENA-SLEDAI flare index rates (HR 0.61, 0.46 to 0.81, p=0.004) in this subgroup. Adverse events were similar between placebo and rontalizumab groups.
Conclusions The primary and secondary end points of this trial were not met in all patients or in patients with high ISM scores. In an exploratory analysis, rontalizumab treatment was associated with improvements in disease activity, reduced flares and decreased steroid use in patients with SLE with low ISM scores.
Trial registration number NCT00962832.
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Autoimmune Diseases
- DMARDs (biologic)