OBJECTIVE: Patients with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) in clinical remission tapered tumor necrosis factor inhibitor (TNFi) therapy according to a clinical guideline. Over a 2-year follow-up period, we aimed to investigate flare frequency, dose at which flare occurred, type of flare, and predictors thereof.

METHODS: Patients in clinical remission (Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index [BASDAI] < 40, physician global score < 40, and without disease activity the previous year) tapered TNFi to two-thirds the standard dose at baseline, half at week 16, one-third at week 32, and discontinued at week 48. Flares were defined as BASDAI flare (BASDAI ≥ 40 and change ≥ 20 since inclusion), and/or clinical flare (development of inflammatory back pain, musculoskeletal or extraarticular manifestations, and/or Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Score [ASDAS] ≥ 0.9), and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) flare (≥ 2 new or worsened inflammatory lesions).

RESULTS: Of 108 patients, 106 (99%) flared before 2-year follow-up: 29 patients (27%) at two-thirds standard dose, 21 (20%) at half dose, 29 (27%) at one-third dose, and 27 (25%) after discontinuation. Regarding type of flare, 105 (99%) had clinical flares, 25 (24%) had BASDAI flares, and 23 (29% of patients with MRI at flare available) had MRI flares. Forty-one patients (41%) fulfilled the Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society (ASAS) definition of clinically important worsening (≥ 0.9 increase since baseline). Higher baseline physician global score was an independent predictor of flare after tapering to two-thirds (OR 1.19, 95% CI 1.04-1.41, P = 0.01). Changes in clinical and/or imaging variables in the 16 weeks prior to tapering did not predict flare.

CONCLUSION: Almost all (99%) patients with axSpA in clinical remission experienced flare during tapering to discontinuation, but in over half of these patients, flare did not occur before receiving one-third dose or less. Higher physician global score was an independent predictor of flare.

TidsskriftJournal of Rheumatology
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)39-49
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2024


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