Efficacy and Safety of Belimumab and Azathioprine for Maintenance of Remission in Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic Antibody–Associated Vasculitis: A Randomized Controlled Study

David Jayne, Daniel Blockmans, Raashid Luqmani, Sergey Moiseev, Beulah Ji, Yulia Green, Leanne Hall, David Roth, Robert B. Henderson, Peter A. Merkel, BREVAS Study Collaborators

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Objective: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of belimumab as adjunctive therapy to maintain remission in antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)–associated vasculitis (AAV). Methods: In this multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, patients with AAV (ages ≥18 years) were randomized 1:1 to receive azathioprine (2 mg/kg/day), low-dose oral glucocorticoids (≤10 mg/day), and either intravenous belimumab (10 mg/kg) or placebo, following remission induction with rituximab or cyclophosphamide along with glucocorticoids. The primary end point was time to first protocol-specified event (PSE), with first PSE defined as a Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score (BVAS) of ≥6, presence of ≥1 major BVAS item, or receipt of prohibited medications for any reason, resulting in treatment failure (adjusted for ANCA type [proteinase 3 (PR3) or myeloperoxidase (MPO)], disease stage at induction, and induction regimen). Vasculitis relapse was defined as the PSE of either a BVAS activity score of ≥6 or receipt of prohibited medications for vasculitis. Changes in treatment practice led to truncation of the study population from ~300 patients to ~100 patients. Results: The intent-to-treat population totaled 105 patients with AAV, of whom 52 (40 with PR3-ANCAs, 12 with MPO-ANCAs) received placebo and 53 (41 with PR3-ANCAs, 12 with MPO-ANCAs) received belimumab; 27 of the patients were in rituximab-induced disease remission, while 78 were in cyclophosphamide-induced disease remission at baseline. Compared with placebo, treatment with belimumab did not reduce the risk of a PSE (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 1.07, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.44–2.59; P = 0.884) or vasculitis relapse (adjusted HR 0.88, 95% CI 0.29–2.65; P = 0.821). The overall rate of PSEs was low (11 [21.2%] of 52 patients receiving placebo, 10 [18.9%] of 53 patients receiving belimumab). Vasculitis relapse in the placebo group (n = 8) occurred independent of the induction regimen, disease stage, or ANCA type. All vasculitis relapses in the belimumab group (n = 6) occurred in patients who had PR3-ANCA–associated vasculitis with cyclophosphamide-induced disease remission. Adverse events occurred in 49 (92.5%) of 53 patients receiving belimumab and 43 (82.7%) of 52 patients receiving placebo, with no new safety concerns. Conclusion: Belimumab plus azathioprine and glucocorticoids for the maintenance of remission in AAV did not reduce the risk of relapse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)952-963
Number of pages12
JournalArthritis and Rheumatology
Issue number6
Early online date16 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology

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