The British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Registers in Ankylosing Spondylitis (BSRBR-AS) study: Protocol for a prospective cohort study of the long-term safety and quality of life outcomes of biologic treatment

Gary J Macfarlane, Maxwell S Barnish, Elizabeth A Jones, Lesley Kay, Andrew Keat, Karen T Meldrum, Ejaz Pathan, Roger D Sturrock, Claudia Zabke, Paul McNamee, Gareth T Jones

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BACKGROUND: Axial spondyloarthropathy typically has its onset in early adulthood and can impact significantly on quality of life. In the UK, biologic anti-tumour necrosis factor therapy is recommended for patients who are unresponsive to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. There remain several unresolved issues about the long-term safety and quality of life outcomes of biologic treatment in axial spondyloarthropathy. Long-term "real-world" surveillance data are required to complement data from randomised controlled trials.

METHODS/DESIGN: We are conducting a UK-wide prospective cohort study of patients with axial spondyloarthropathy who are naïve to biologic therapy at the time of recruitment. Those about to commence anti-tumour necrosis factor biologic therapy will enter a "biologic" sub-cohort with other patients assigned to a "non-biologic" sub-cohort. The primary objective is to determine whether the use of biologic therapy is associated with an increased risk of serious infection, while secondary objectives are to assess differences in malignancy, serious comorbidity, all-cause mortality but also assess impact on specific clinical domains (physical health, mental health and quality of life) including work outcomes between biologic and non-biologic patient cohorts. Patients will be followed-up for up to 5 years. Data are obtained at baseline and at standard clinical follow-up visits - at 3, 6 and 12 months and then annually for the biologic cohort and annually for the non-biologic cohort. This study will also collect biological samples for genetic analysis.

DISCUSSION: Although biologic therapy is widely used for ankylosing spondylitis patients who are unresponsive to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the majority of the available safety information comes from rheumatoid arthritis, where increased infection risk has consistently been shown. However, given the typical demographic differences between rheumatoid arthritis and axial spondyloarthropathy patients, it is important to develop an epidemiologically rigorous cohort of patients receiving biologic therapy to effectively evaluate outcomes with regard not only to safety but also to quantify benefits across clinical, psychosocial and work outcomes.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: This is an observational cohort study and clinical trial registration was not required or obtained.

Original languageEnglish
Article number347
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Oversight of the study is provided by the BSR Registers Committee of which GJM and GTJ are members, together with investigators from BSRBR-RA, representatives from the BSR clinical affairs section and BSR independent members, currently, Alex MacGregor (University of East Anglia), Elaine Dennison (University of Southampton), Jon Packham (Keele University) and patient representatives Ailsa Bosworth and Debbie Cook. We acknowledge the contribution of the International Advisory Group members Desireé van der Heijde (Netherlands), Matthew Brown (Australia) and Walter Maksymowych (Canada). We thank Neil Basu (University of Aberdeen) for his role with regards to pharmacovigilance and the Robertson Centre for Biostatistics (University of Glasgow) for data management services. Author KTM is currently at the Tayside Clinical Trials Unit, University of Dundee.

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  • axial spondyloarthropathy
  • ankylosing spondylitis
  • biologic therapy
  • safety
  • infection
  • cohort


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