Infliximab is a monoclonal antibody that binds and neutralizes circulating tumor necrosis factor-alpha, a key inflammatory cytokine in the pathophysiology of sarcoidosis. Despite the paucity of randomized clinical trials, infliximab is often considered a therapeutic option for refractory disease. Our study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of infliximab in patients with refractory sarcoidosis.
Sarcoidosis patients from three tertiary centres were retrospectively identified by pharmacy records based on treatment with infliximab. Treatment with Infliximab was initiated in patients who failed first and second line immunomodulators as determined by a multidisciplinary team of Respirologists, Dermatologists, ENT specialists, Rheumatologists, and Neurologists. Participants were characterized by the primary organ for which infliximab was initiated and the total number of organs involved. Clinical outcomes were categorized as treatment success versus failure. We defined treatment success as (A) improvement of cutaneous, upper airway, lymph node, gastrointestinal, eye, or joint manifestations; or (B) improvement or no change in central nervous system (CNS) or pulmonary manifestations.
33 patients with refractory sarcoidosis were identified. The proportion of treatment success was 100% (95% CI 54.1–100) in CNS, 91.7% (95% CI 61.5–99.8) in cutaneous, 78.6% (95% CI 49.2–95.3) in pulmonary and 71.5% (95% CI 29.0–96.3) in upper airway disease. The use of infliximab was associated with a reduction prednisone dose by 50%.
Infliximab is possibly an effective therapy for refractory sarcoidosis, with the greatest value in neurologic and cutaneous manifestations. Across all disease presentations, infliximab facilitated a clinically relevant reduction in corticosteroid dose. Relapse is common after discontinuation of infliximab.