Relapse rates after elective discontinuation of anti-TNF therapy in rheumatoid arthritis: a meta-analysis and review of literature

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Mangoni, Arduino Aleksander
Al Okaily, Fahdah
Almoallim, Hani
Al Rashidi, Seham
Mohammed, Reem H A
Barbary, Amal
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BioMed Central
© The Author(s) 2019
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Abstract Background Inhibitors of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) are current mainstay of therapies for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The decision when to withdraw TNF-α inhibitors after achieving remission and the incidence of relapse rates with elective discontinuation are both important questions that demand intense survey in these patients. In this meta-analysis we aimed to estimate the magnitude of relapse rate after elective TNF-α inhibitor discontinuation in RA patients with remission. Methods Systematic searches of PubMed/MEDLINE, Cochrane Library databases, grey literature (unpublished and ongoing trials) from the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform and the US National Institutes of Health were performed for studies reporting the outcomes of elective discontinuation of TNF-α inhibitor in RA patients after remission. Random-effects models for meta-analyses were conducted on extracted data. Results Out of 390 references screened, 16 RCTs were included. Meta-analysis of 1264 patient data revealed a relapse rate of 0.47 (95% CI 0.41–0.54). Sensitivity analysis showed that none of the studies had higher influence on the results. Conclusions Almost half of all the RA patients in remission relapse after elective TNF-α inhibitor discontinuation. This information might be useful when considering this management option with individual patients.
© The Author(s) 2019 This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
DMARDs (synthetic), TNF-α inhibitors, Rheumatoid arthritis, Treatment discontinuation, Relapse
Mangoni, A. A., Al Okaily, F., Almoallim, H., Al Rashidi, S., Mohammed, R. H. A., & Barbary, A. (2019). Relapse rates after elective discontinuation of anti-TNF therapy in rheumatoid arthritis: a meta-analysis and review of literature. BMC Rheumatology, 3(1).