Increase of hemoglobin levels by anti-IL-6 receptor antibody (tocilizumab) in rheumatoid arthritis

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Abstract

Objective: To compare the effect of tocilizumab (TCZ) with other biologic therapies in improving anemia of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. Methods: We compared the change of hemoglobin (Hb) levels in a cohort of 147 consecutive RA patients who were treated with biologics for more than 12 weeks. Twenty eight patients were treated with TCZ, and 119 patients were treated with biologics other than TCZ (87 with TNF inhibitors and 32 with abatacept). The change of Hb levels from baseline to week 12 was compared between the TCZ and the non-TCZ groups. We performed univariate and multivariate analyses with adjustment of potential confounders such as baseline characteristics, concomitant treatment, and the clinical response to treatment. Results: Hb levels generally increased after biologic therapies both in the TCZ and the non-TCZ groups. The increase of Hb levels was greater in the TCZ group than in the non-TCZ groups (1.1 g/dL in the TCZ group vs 0.3 g/dL in the non-TCZ group, p = 0.009). Univariate analysis revealed that increase of Hb levels was also significantly associated with lower Hb, higher Low Hemoglobin Density, and higher CRP levels at baseline and greater reduction in the clinical disease activity index. TCZ therapy was significantly associated with the increase of Hb levels even after adjustment for these factors by multivariate analysis (p<0.001, effect size 0.08-0.12). Conclusion: TCZ therapy is an independent factor associated with the increase of Hb level after biologic therapies in RA patients. It will help in selecting appropriate biologics for RA patients with anemia. © 2014 Hashimoto et al.

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Hashimoto, M., Fujii, T., Hamaguchi, M., Furu, M., Ito, H., Terao, C., … Mimori, T. (2014). Increase of hemoglobin levels by anti-IL-6 receptor antibody (tocilizumab) in rheumatoid arthritis. PLoS ONE, 9(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0098202

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