Second-line biologic therapy optimization in rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis

Fabrizio Cantini, Laura Niccoli, Carlotta Nannini, Emanuele Cassarà, Olga Kaloudi, Ennio Giulio Favalli, Andrea Becciolini, Maurizio Benucci, Francesca Li Gobbi, Serena Guiducci, Rosario Foti, Marta Mosca, Delia Goletti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective The Italian board for the TAilored BIOlogic therapy (ITABIO) reviewed the most consistent literature to indicate the best strategy for the second-line biologic choice in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), spondyloarthritis (SpA), and psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Methods Systematic review of the literature to identify English-language articles on efficacy of second-line biologic choice in RA, PsA, and ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Data were extracted from available randomized, controlled trials, national biologic registries, national healthcare databases, post-marketing surveys, and open-label observational studies. Results Some previously stated variables, including the patients׳ preference, the indication for anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) monotherapy in potential childbearing women, and the intravenous route with dose titration in obese subjects resulted valid for all the three rheumatic conditions. In RA, golimumab as second-line biologic has the highest level of evidence in anti-TNF failure. The switching strategy is preferable for responder patients who experience an adverse event, whereas serious or class-specific side effects should be managed by the choice of a differently targeted drug. Secondary inadequate response to etanercept (ETN) should be treated with a biologic agent other than anti-TNF. After two or more anti-TNF failures, the swapping to a different mode of action is recommended. Among non-anti-TNF targeted biologics, to date rituximab (RTX) and tocilizumab (TCZ) have the strongest evidence of efficacy in the treatment of anti-TNF failures. In PsA and AS patients failing the first anti-TNF, the switch strategy to a second is advisable, taking in account the evidence of adalimumab efficacy in patients with uveitis. The severity of psoriasis, of articular involvement, and the predominance of enthesitis and/or dactylitis may drive the choice toward ustekinumab or secukinumab in PsA, and the latter in AS. Conclusion Taking in account the paucity of controlled trials, second-line biologic therapy may be reasonably optimized in patients with RA, SpA, and PsA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-192
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Anti-TNF
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Second-line biologics
  • Spondyloarthritis
  • Switching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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