Anifrolumab reduces flare rates in patients with moderate to severe systemic lupus erythematosus

Background: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) management objectives include preventing disease flares while minimizing glucocorticoid exposure. Pooled data from the phase 3 TULIP-1 and TULIP-2 trials in patients with moderate to severe SLE were analyzed to determine anifrolumab’s effect on flares, including those arising with glucocorticoid taper.

Methods: TULIP-1 and TULIP-2 were randomized, placebo-controlled, 52-week trials of intravenous anifrolumab (300 mg every 4 weeks for 48 weeks). For patients receiving baseline glucocorticoid ≥10 mg/day, attempted taper to ≤7.5 mg/day prednisone or equivalent from Weeks 8-40 was required and defined as sustained reduction when maintained through Week 52. Flares were defined as ≥1 new BILAG-2004 A or ≥2 new BILAG-2004 B scores versus the previous visit. Flare assessments were compared for patients receiving anifrolumab versus placebo.

Results: Compared with placebo (n = 366), anifrolumab (n = 360) was associated with lower annualized flare rates (rate ratio 0.75, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.60-0.95), prolonged time to first flare (hazard ratio 0.70, 95% CI 0.55-0.89), and fewer patients with ≥1 flare (difference -9.3%, 95% CI -16.3 to -2.3), as well as flares in organ domains commonly active at baseline (musculoskeletal, mucocutaneous). Fewer BILAG-based Composite Lupus Assessment responders had ≥1 flare with anifrolumab (21.1%, 36/171) versus placebo (30.4%, 34/112). Of patients who achieved sustained glucocorticoid reductions from ≥10 mg/day at baseline, more remained flare free with anifrolumab (40.0%, 76/190) versus placebo (17.3%, 32/185).

Conclusions: Analyses of pooled TULIP-1 and TULIP-2 data support that anifrolumab reduces flares while permitting glucocorticoid taper in patients with identifiersTULIP-1 NCT02446912 (;TULIP-2 NCT02446899 (

Keywords: Systemic lupus erythematosus; flare; glucocorticoid; treatment.