Therapy of ankylosing spondylitis and other spondyloarthritides: established medical treatment, anti-TNF-α therapy and other novel approaches
1 Rheumazentrum Ruhrgebiet, Herne, Germany
2 Department of Gastroenterology and Rheumatology, Hospital Benjamin Franklin, Free University, Berlin, Germany
Arthritis Res 2002, 4:307-321 doi:10.1186/ar592Published: 6 August 2002
Therapeutic options for patients with more severe forms of spondyloarthritis (SpA) have been rather limited in recent decades. There is accumulating evidence that anti-tumor-necrosis-factor (anti-TNF) therapy is highly effective in SpA, especially in ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis. The major anti-TNF-α agents currently available, infliximab (Remicade®) and etanercept (Enbrel®), are approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in many countries. In ankylosing spondylitis there is an unmet medical need, since there are almost no disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) available for severely affected patients, especially those with spinal manifestations. Judging from recent data from more than 300 patients with SpA, anti-TNF therapy seems to be even more effective in SpA than in rheumatoid arthritis. However, it remains to be shown whether patients benefit from long-term treatment, whether radiological progression and ankylosis can be stopped and whether long-term biologic therapy is safe.