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Biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs may mitigate the risk of psoriatic arthritis in patients with chronic plaque psoriasis


Objective To estimate the incidence of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) in patients with psoriasis who had received a continuous treatment with biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) compared with phototherapy.

Methods A retrospective non-randomised study involving patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis, who were prescribed at least 5 years of bDMARDs or at least three narrow-band ultraviolet light B (nb-UVB) phototherapy courses, and did not have a diagnosis of PsA at enrolment. Development of PsA in each patient was assessed by a rheumatologist according to the Classification for Psoriatic Arthritis criteria. The annual and cumulative incidence rate of PsA was estimated by using an event per person-years analysis. Cox proportional hazards models were undertaken to assess the hazard risk (HR) of PsA after adjustment for confounders.

Results A total of 464 psoriatic patients (bDMARDs, n=234 and nb-UVB, n=230) were followed between January 2012 and September 2020 (corresponding to 1584 and 1478 person year of follow-up for the two groups, respectively). The annual incidence rate of PsA was 1.20 cases (95% CI 0.77 to 1.89) versus 2.17 cases (95% CI 1.53 to 3.06) per 100 patients/year in the bDMARDs versus phototherapy group, respectively (HR 0.29, 0.12–0.70; p=0.006). The variables independently associated with higher risk of PsA were older age (adjusted HR 1.04, 1.02–1.07), nail psoriasis (adjusted HR 3.15, 1.63–6.06) and psoriasis duration >10 years (adjusted HR 2.02, 1.09–3.76); notably, bDMARDs treatment was associated with a lower risk of incident PsA (adjusted HR 0.27, 0.11–0.66).

Conclusions bDMARDs treatment may delay or reduce the risk of incident PsA in patients with moderate-to-severe chronic plaque psoriasis.

  • arthritis
  • psoriatic
  • biological therapy
  • tumor necrosis factor inhibitors
  • arthritis

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. These are deidentified participant dataAll the data are available at There is no embrago for the data.

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