Effects of tapering tumor necrosis factor inhibitor on the achievement of inactive disease in patients with axial spondyloarthritis: A nationwide cohort study

Jun Won Park, Hyoun Ah Kim, Kichul Shin, Yong Beom Park, Tae Hwan Kim, Yeong Wook Song, Eun Young Lee

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Objectives: To investigate the association between the extent of tapering tumor necrosis factor inhibitor (TNFi) and the likelihood of achieving inactive disease in patients with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) Methods: We analyzed 1575 1-year follow-up interval data of 776 axSpA patients treated with TNFi for more than 1 year in a nationwide observational cohort. The decision on tapering TNFi was made by patients and their physicians. We quantified TNFi used during interval as a dose quotient (DQ). The intervals were classified into the heavy-tapering (DQ < 50), mild-tapering (DQ 50-99), and control groups (DQ = 100). Outcome variables included achieving Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Score-inactive disease (ASDAS-ID) and major clinical response of Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI50) in the follow-up visit. The effects of TNFi tapering on the outcome were analyzed using the generalized estimating equation. Results: At the baseline visit, 91.1% of the patients showed a high disease activity (ASDAS-CRP ≥ 2.1). DQ of each interval was significantly influenced by the ASDAS-CRP measure in the prior follow-up (P < 0.001). ASDAS-ID was observed in 42.3% of the intervals. A multivariable analysis showed that the likelihood of outcome achievement was comparable between the control and mild-tapering groups, but significantly decreased in the heavy-tapering group (vs. the control group, adjusted OR = 0.28, [95% CI, 0.08-0.94]). In contrast, the likelihood to achieve BASDAI50 response was not different among the groups. In the subgroup of patients who reached ASDAS-ID 1 year after TNFi treatment (n = 327), ASDAS-ID was observed in 66.1% of the subsequent intervals, and only the mild-tapering group showed a likelihood of target maintenance comparable with that of the control group (adjusted OR = 1.25 [0.41-3.80]). This likelihood decreased with an increase in ASDAS-CRP. Conclusion: Mild tapering of TNFi has efficacy comparable with that of the standard-dose treatment for ASDAS-ID achievement in patients with axSpA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number163
JournalArthritis Research and Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jul 4

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Korea Health Technology R & D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute funded by the Ministry of Health Welfare, Republic of Korea (grant HI14C1277).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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