Predicting response to anti-TNFα therapy among patients with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA): results from BSRBR-AS

Gary J. Macfarlane*, Ejaz Pathan, Gareth T. Jones, Linda E. Dean

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
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Objectives: While many axSpA patients, eligible to receive anti-TNFα therapy, derive benefit when prescribed them, some patients do not. The current study aims to identify modifiable targets to improve outcome as well as non-modifiable targets which identify groups less likely to derive benefit.

Methods: The BSRBR-AS is a prospective cohort study of axSpA patients who, at recruitment, were naïve to biologic therapy. Those in the “biologic” sub-cohort commenced their first anti-TNFα therapy at recruitment or during follow-up. Prior to commencement, information was collected on socio-economic, clinical and patient-reported factors. Outcome was assessed according to ASAS20, ASAS40, ASDAS reduction and achieving a moderate/inactive ASDAS disease state.

Results: 335 participants commenced their first anti-TNFα therapy and were followed up at a median of 14 (IQR 12-17) weeks. Response varied between 33% and 52% according to criteria used. Adverse socio-economic factors, fewer years in education predicted lower likelihood of response across outcome measures as did not working full-time. Co-morbidities and poor mental health were clinical and patient-reported factors, respectively, associated with lack of response. The models, particularly those using ASDAS, were good at predicting those who did not respond (Negative Predictive Value (NPV) 77%).

Conclusions: Some factors predicting non-response (such as mental health) are modifiable but many (such as social/economic factors) are not modifiable in clinic. They do, however, identify patients who are unlikely to benefit from biologic therapy alone. Priority should focus on how these patients receive the benefits which many derive from such therapies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2481-2490
Number of pages10
Issue number9
Early online date28 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

We are grateful to the staff of the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register in Axial Spondyloarthritis register and to the recruiting staff at the clinical centres, details of which are available at: We are grateful to Jonathan Lock for commenting on the manuscript.

Funding: This work was supported by the British Society for Rheumatology (BSR) who have funded the BSRBR-AS. The BSR received funding for this from Pfizer, AbbVie and UCB. These companies receive advance copies of manuscripts for comments but have no input in to the topics for analysis in the register nor the work involved in undertaking analysis. Analysis of data was supported by the Versus Arthritis/Medical Research Council Centre for Musculoskeletal Health and Work [grant number 20665].


  • axial spondyloarthritis
  • ankylosing spondylitis
  • response
  • treatment
  • anti-TNF-alpha
  • biologic therapy
  • BATH


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