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Tumour necrosis factor α blocking agents in refractory adult Still’s disease: an observational study of 20 cases
  1. B Fautrel1,
  2. J Sibilia2,
  3. X Mariette3,
  4. B Combe4,
  5. the Club Rhumatismes et Inflammation
  1. 1Department of Rheumatology, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, AP-HP, Paris, France
  2. 2Department of Rheumatology, Hautepierre University Hospital, Strasbourg, France
  3. 3Department of Rheumatology, Bicêtre Hospital, AP-HP, Le Kremlin Bicêtre, France
  4. 4Federation of Rheumatology, Lapeyronie University Hospital, Montpellier, France
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr B Fautrel
    Department of Rheumatology, Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, 83 bd de l’Hôpital, 75013 Paris, France;


Background: Consensus is lacking on treatment for corticosteroid resistant adult onset Still’s disease (ASD).

Objective: To assess anti-TNFα efficacy and tolerance in refractory ASD.

Methods: All departments of rheumatology and internal medicine in France were contacted by mail to identify cases of refractory ASD for which anti-TNFα had been used. Medical information was collected using a standardised questionnaire.

Results: Of 20 patients with mean age 40.7 years (range 18–74) at treatment start and mean disease duration 8.5 years (range 2–21), the clinical expression of ASD was predominantly systemic in five patients and polyarticular in 15. Response to corticosteroids and methotrexate had been considered inadequate in all patients. Infliximab was used to treat 15 patients, and etanercept used for 10; five had received both drugs consecutively. Steroids were concurrently used in 18 patients and an immunosuppressant in 17. At a mean (SD) follow up of 13 (14) months, complete remission had occurred in five cases (of 25 treatment sequences): one receiving etanercept and four infliximab. Partial response was observed in 16 cases (seven etanercept and nine infliximab). Treatment failed in four cases (two with each anti-TNFα). At the last visit, anti-TNFα therapy was discontinued in 17 cases, 11 times because of lack (or loss) of efficacy, four times because of a side effect, and twice for other reasons.

Conclusion: Anti-TNFα therapy may be helpful for some patients with refractory ASD. However, most patients achieve only partial remission. Additional information is thus needed to evaluate more precisely the risk−benefit ratio of this treatment.

  • ASD, adult onset Still’s disease
  • DMARD, disease modifying antirheumatic drug
  • MRI, magnetic resonance imagiing
  • adult still disease
  • anti-TNFα
  • treatment
  • retrospective
  • survey

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  • The study was funded by the The Club Rhumatismes and Inflammation (CRI) section of the French Society of Rheumatology.