New possibilities of drug therapy for rheumatoid arthritis: focus at sarilumab

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most prevalent autoimmune diseases in humans and is a serious medical and social problem in the Russian Federation. Current synthetic and biological agents acting through specific molecular targets, play a significant role in the treatment of RA. Over the last few years, inhibitors of the biological effects of interleukin-6 (IL-6) have attracted increasing attention, being positioned as the first choice agents among the biologicals, especially if there is a need in monotherapy. IL-6 is a pleiotropic cytokine with a broad range of biological effects on immune cells, such as B and T lymphocytes, on hepatocytes, hematopoietic cells, vascular endothelial cells, and many others. In this regard, IL-6 is a good therapeutic target in RA. For several years, the group of inhibitors of IL-6 biological effects has been represented by one drug only, i.e. tocilizumab. The new drug of this group, sarilumab, is a human monoclonal antibody (IgG1 subtype) to the IL-6 receptor. Sarilumab binds specifically to both soluble and membrane IL-6 receptors (IL-6Rα), and inhibits IL-6-mediated signal transduction involving signal protein glycoprotein 130 (gp130) and signal proteins STAT-3. There is evidence that sarilumab has a higher affinity to the IL-6 receptor, and binds the receptor in a more stable manner than tocilizumab. Sarilumab has been approved for treatment of RA with moderate or high activity in adult patients with inadequate response or intolerability to one or several synthetic basic drugs, at a dose 150 mg or 200 mg subcutaneously biweekly in combination with methotrexate (MTX). It also can be prescribed as monotherapy in case of MTX intolerability or if treatment with MTX is inexpedient. Sarilumab is a highly active therapeutic agent with proven superiority in monotherapy over adalimumab. Therefore, sarilumab can be positioned as a first line biological agent in patients with high inflammatory activity, as well as in those resistant to tumor necrosis factor-α inhibitors. The safety profile of sarilumab is similar to that of tocilizumab; probably there is a slightly higher risk of neutropenia, but a lower risk of dyslipidemia, reactions at the injection site and gastrointestinal perforation for sarilumab than for tocilizumab.

About the authors

D. E. Karateev

Moscow Regional Research and Clinical Institute (MONIKI)

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2352-4080

Dmitry E. Karateev – MD, PhD, Head of Department of Rheumatology; Professor, Chair of Therapy, Postgraduate Training Faculty

61/2 Shchepkina ul., Moscow, 129110

Russian Federation

E. L. Luchikhina

Moscow Regional Research and Clinical Institute (MONIKI)

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6519-1106

Elena L. Luchikhina – MD, PhD, Leading Research Fellow, Department of Rheumatology; Associate Professor, Chair of Therapy, Postgraduate Training Faculty

61/2 Shchepkina ul., Moscow, 129110

Russian Federation


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Copyright (c) 2019 Karateev D.E., Luchikhina E.L.

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