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

Shim, Joanna; Dean, Linda E.; Karabayas, Maira; Jones, Gareth T.; Macfarlane, Gary J.; Basu, Neil


Linda E. Dean

Maira Karabayas

Gareth T. Jones

Gary J. Macfarlane

Neil Basu


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.


SHIM, J., DEAN, L.E., KARABAYAS, M., JONES, G.T., MACFARLANE, G.J. and BASU, N. 2020. Quantifying and predicting the effect of anti-TNF therapy on axSpA-related fatigue: results from the BSRBR-AS registry and meta-analysis. Rheumatology [online], 59(11), pages 3408-3414. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 24, 2020
Online Publication Date Apr 26, 2020
Publication Date Nov 30, 2020
Deposit Date Oct 19, 2021
Publicly Available Date Oct 19, 2021
Journal Rheumatology
Print ISSN 1462-0324
Electronic ISSN 1462-0332
Publisher British Society for Rheumatology
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 59
Issue 11
Pages 3408-3414
Keywords Fatigue; Anti-tumour necrosis factor; Axial spondylarthritis; Sleep; Registry; Meta-analysis
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