Quantifying and predicting the effect of anti-TNF therapy on axSpA-related fatigue: Results from the BSRBR-AS registry and meta-analysis

Joanna Shim, Linda E Dean, Maira Karabayas , Gareth T Jones, Gary J Macfarlane, Neil Basu* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


OBJECTIVES: Effective management of axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA)-related fatigue is a major unmet clinical need. Anti-TNF therapy may reduce fatigue levels, although any effect has yet to be definitively quantified and predictors of any such improvements are unknown.

METHODS: The British Society of Rheumatology Register in Axial Spondyloarthritis (BSRBR-AS) prospectively recruited axSpA patients across the UK. Changes in fatigue levels (measured using the Chalder Fatigue Scale) >1 year were compared between those starting anti-TNF therapy at the time of recruitment and those not. Differences between treatment groups were adjusted using propensity score matching. Results were meta-analysed with the extant literature to calculate pooled estimates. Then, among those BSRBR-AS anti-TNF commencers with clinically relevant fatigue, baseline predictors of response were investigated.

RESULTS: Of the 998 BSRBR-AS recruits with complete fatigue data, 310 were anti-TNF commencers. At 1-year follow-up, the former group reported a mean fatigue change of -2.6 (95% CI -4.1, -1.9) points while the latter reported a mean worsening of fatigue by 0.2 points. Following propensity score adjustment, those commencing anti-TNF therapy reduced fatigue by 3.0 points compared with those not. Of those with significant fatigue and commencing anti-TNF, poor sleep quality at baseline predicted fatigue improvement. In the meta-analysis, including 1109 subjects, treatment with anti-TNF therapy resulted in a significant improvement in fatigue [Standardized mean difference (SMD) = 0.36, 95% CI 0.15, 1.56].

CONCLUSION: Anti-TNF therapy results in a significant but modest reduction in fatigue amongst axSpA patients, with those reporting poor sleep quality most likely to report improvement. Effective management will likely require additional approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberkeaa132
Pages (from-to)3408-3414
Number of pages7
Issue number11
Early online date26 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 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: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/iahs/research/epidemiology/spondyloarthritis.php#panel1011.

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].


  • fatigue
  • Anti-Tumour Necrosis Factor
  • Axial Spondylarthritis
  • sleep
  • registry
  • meta-analysis


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantifying and predicting the effect of anti-TNF therapy on axSpA-related fatigue: Results from the BSRBR-AS registry and meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this