The most effective and concurrently the safest treatment regimen selection is important to provide early control of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and to have an acceptable quality of life. The effectivity of biologic agents as well as standard disease-modifying drugs is well documented in treatment of JIA. In spite of their high benefit, these drugs have the risk of serious infections. Herein, we conducted a prospective study to investigate the infectious complications of biologic agents in patients diagnosed with JIA.
Patients on biologic treatment regimen were examined by the pediatric infectious disease specialist in every 2 months during 1-year long.
Throughout the study period, 57% (n:175) of the patients developed infection and 43% (n:132) of them completed this period without any infection. Upper respiratory tract infections which were treated in outpatient clinic were the most common infection. Only three serious infections (two pneumonia, one pleural effusion), which required hospitalization, developed. The infection rate was highest in systemic JIA and lowest in enthesitis-related arthritis (p < 0.001). The total rate of infection development after 1-year period was lowest for etanercept; it was highest for the patients on infliximab treatment (p < 0.001).
We comment that the altered immune system of JIA can be responsible from the serious infections irrespective of immunosuppressive therapy. Biologic agents can be safely used in JIA evaluating the loss and benefit statement.