Tocilizumab in isolated polymyalgia rheumatica: A systematic literature review

Mitsuhiro Akiyama, Yuko Kaneko, Tsutomu Takeuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: We investigated the effectiveness of tocilizumab (an anti-interleukin-6 receptor antibody) in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). Methods: We performed a systematic literature review from the inception dates until August 7, 2019 for articles reporting tocilizumab administration to treat isolated PMR. Results: We identified 59 patients with isolated PMR treated with tocilizumab. All studies used intravenously administered tocilizumab at a dose of 8 mg/kg monthly. Tocilizumab monotherapy was administered to 24 and combination therapy (tocilizumab + glucocorticoid) to 35 patients. Tocilizumab monotherapy achieved low disease activity scores in only 17% of patients at week 4 and in only 71% patients even at week 12. Compared to glucocorticoid monotherapy, the reduction in the cumulative glucocorticoid dose was between 58% and 70% using a combination of tocilizumab and glucocorticoids, and 33–100% of the patients eventually showed glucocorticoid-free remission. All relapses occurred in patients administered tocilizumab monotherapy. No new safety event was reported. Conclusion: Tocilizumab is effective in cases of isolated PMR, particularly in combination with glucocorticoids. In addition to its glucocorticoid-sparing effect, it achieves glucocorticoid-free remission and reduces relapse rates. Tocilizumab monotherapy is not recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-525
Number of pages5
JournalSeminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun


  • Anti-interleukin-6 receptor
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Tocilizumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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