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Biologics in juvenile idiopathic arthritis: a narrative review

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Abstract

In the past years, pediatric rheumatology has seen a revolution in the treatments for rheumatic diseases, particularly juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Even if nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), intra-articular corticosteroids (IAC) injections, and methotrexate remain the mainstay of the treatment for JIA patients, in aggressive disease, these treatments may be not sufficient to reach disease remission and to prevent long-term disability. Comprehension of immunological mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of the diseases allowed to conceive new drugs targeting specific steps of the immune response. Several cytokines, like TNF alpha and IL-1, represent a very interesting target for biologic therapies. Due to the efficacy of these therapies, nowadays, “disease remission” in pediatric rheumatology is more and more frequent, especially in juvenile idiopathic arthritis patients, and the long-term outcomes have been significantly improved. Crucial to these advancements have been multicenter controlled clinical trials and long-term safety monitoring.

Conclusions: Research in pediatric rheumatology has resulted in dramatic advances in diseases management. Biologic treatments have improved physical and functional outcomes and quality of life of patients with rheumatic disease.

What is Known:

NSAID, intra-articular injection of corticoids, and methotrexate are the mainstay in treatment of JIA.

In aggressive JIA, these treatments may be not sufficient to reach disease remission and to prevent long term disability.

What is New:

In recent years, management of JIA has significantly improved with the development of biologic therapies that allowed children with arthritis to reach a normal growth and to achieve a good long-term functional outcome.

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Abbreviations

DMARD:

Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug

JIA:

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis

IL-1:

Interleukin-1

IL-6:

Interleukin-6

MAS:

Macrophage activation syndrome

NSAID:

Nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs

sJIA:

Systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis

TNF:

Tumor necrosis factor

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Acknowledgements

Dr. Vanoni acknowledges Fondazione Balli for the support.

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Dr. Vanoni performed the review of the literature, drafted the initial manuscript, and wrote the manuscript as submitted.

Dr. Minoia and Dr. Malattia corrected the initial draft of the manuscript and approved the final manuscript as submitted.

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Correspondence to Federica Vanoni.

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Communicated by Mario Bianchetti

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Vanoni, F., Minoia, F. & Malattia, C. Biologics in juvenile idiopathic arthritis: a narrative review. Eur J Pediatr 176, 1147–1153 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00431-017-2960-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00431-017-2960-6

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