Interferon-alpha for maintenance of remission in Churg-Strauss syndrome: A long-term observational study

Metzler C., Csernok E., Gross W.L., Hellmich B.


Background. Interferon-α has been successfully used for induction of remission in patients with Churg-Strauss syndrome, but data on its ability to prevent relapses and its safety during long-term use are lacking. Objective. To examine the safety and efficacy of interferon-α for maintenance of remission in Churg-Strauss syndrome. Patients and methods. In a prospective open-label long-term observational study, 13 patients with CSS in stable remission received interferon-a (3x3 Mio. I.U/week s.c.)for maintenance of remission. Primary end point was the incidence of relapses. Secondary end points were the doses of concomitant prednisolone and the frequency adverse events. Results. After a median follow up of 64 month three patients were still on treatment with interferon-α all with a dose of 9 million units/week. In nine patients, interferon-α was discontinued for lack of efficacy (n=5), due to adverse events (n=2), or both (n-2) after median of 63 months (15-153) of therapy. A total of 3 major and 18 minor relapses occurred in 10 of the 13 patients with a median time to first relapse of 17 months (range 5-46). Sera of relapsing patients did not contain antibodies against interferon-α. In 6 relapsing patients treatment was switched to cyclophosphamide (n=4) or methotrexate (n-2). Four episodes of worsened asthmatic symptoms associated with a mild rise of blood eosinophils occurred in 3 patients and resolved following a transient increase of the oral prednisolone dosage. After 49 months one patient died probably due to a relapse. IFN-α was ceased prematurely, because of autoimmune-thyreoiditis in one, depression in another and cerebral leukoencephalopathy in two patients. Overall, 18 infectious episodes with need of antimicrobial treatment were observed. Conclusion. Recombinant interferon-α appears to be partially effective in the prevention of major relapses in patients with Churg-Strauss syndrome. Due to numerous side effects and infections during long-term administration its use should be restricted to patients with contraindications against conventional immunosuppressive therapies. © Copyright Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology 2010.
Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical and Experimental Rheumatology
Issue number1 SUPPL. 57
Pages (from-to)S24-S30
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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