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Effectiveness of Belimumab After Rituximab in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Shipa, M; Embleton-Thirsk, A; Parvaz, M; Santos, LR; Muller, P; Chowdhury, K; Isenberg, DA; ... BEAT-LUPUS Investigators; + view all (2021) Effectiveness of Belimumab After Rituximab in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine , 174 (12) pp. 1647-1657. 10.7326/M21-2078. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: B-cell depletion with rituximab is commonly used for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) that is refractory to conventional therapy, but it yields variable responses. We hypothesized that high B-cell activating factor (BAFF) levels after rituximab can cause disease flares, thereby limiting its effectiveness. OBJECTIVE: To obtain preliminary evidence for efficacy of the anti-BAFF therapeutic belimumab after rituximab in SLE. DESIGN: Phase 2, randomized, double-blind (patients, assessors, researchers, care providers), placebo-controlled, parallel-group, superiority trial. (ISRCTN: 47873003). SETTING: England. PARTICIPANTS: Fifty-two patients who had SLE that was refractory to conventional treatment and whose physicians had recommended rituximab therapy were recruited between 2 February 2017 and 28 March 2019. INTERVENTION: Participants were treated with rituximab and 4 to 8 weeks later were randomly assigned (1:1) to receive intravenous belimumab or placebo for 52 weeks. MEASUREMENTS: The prespecified primary end point was serum IgG anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibody levels at 52 weeks. Secondary outcomes included incidence of disease flares and adverse events. RESULTS: At 52 weeks, IgG anti-dsDNA antibody levels were lower in patients treated with belimumab compared with placebo (geometric mean, 47 [95% CI, 25 to 88] vs. 103 [CI, 49 to 213] IU/mL; 70% greater reduction from baseline [CI, 46% to 84%]; P < 0.001). Belimumab reduced risk for severe flare (BILAG-2004 grade A) compared with placebo (hazard ratio, 0.27 [CI, 0.07 to 0.98]; log-rank P = 0.033), with 10 severe flares in the placebo group and 3 in the belimumab group. Belimumab did not increase incidence of serious adverse events. Belimumab significantly suppressed B-cell repopulation compared with placebo (geometric mean, 0.012 [CI, 0.006 to 0.014] vs. 0.037 [CI, 0.021 to 0.081] × 109/L) at 52 weeks in a subset of patients (n = 25) with available data. LIMITATIONS: Small sample size; biomarker primary end point. CONCLUSION: Belimumab after rituximab significantly reduced serum IgG anti-dsDNA antibody levels and reduced risk for severe flare in patients with SLE that was refractory to conventional therapy. The results suggest that this combination could be developed as a therapeutic strategy. PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE: Versus Arthritis.

Type: Article
Title: Effectiveness of Belimumab After Rituximab in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.7326/M21-2078
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.7326/M21-2078
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Adverse events, Arthritis, Clinical trials, Hospital medicine, Immunosuppressives, Intent to treat analysis, Rheumatology, Safety, Systemic lupus erythematosus
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine > Inflammation
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology > Comprehensive CTU at UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10137751
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