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Evaluation of pneumococcal and tetanus vaccine responses in patients with rheumatoid arthritis receiving baricitinib: results from a long-term extension trial substudy


Winthrop KL1, Bingham CO 3rd2, Komocsar WJ3, Bradley J3, Issa M3, Klar R4, Kartman CE3. Arthritis Res Ther. 2019 Apr 18;21(1):102. doi: 10.1186/s13075-019-1883-1.

Author Information

1 Division of Infectious Diseases, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR, USA. winthrop@ohsu.edu.

2 Divisions of Rheumatology and Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.

3 Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, IN, USA.

4 IQVIA, Durham, NC, USA.



Clinical guidelines recommend pneumococcal and tetanus vaccinations in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Baricitinib is an oral, selective Janus kinase (JAK) 1/JAK 2 inhibitor and is approved for the treatment of moderately to severely active RA in adults in over 50 countries including European countries, the USA, and Japan. This substudy evaluated pneumococcal conjugate and tetanus toxoid vaccine (TTV) responses in patients with RA receiving baricitinib. These vaccines elucidate predominantly T cell-dependent humoral antibody response.


Eligible RA patients receiving baricitinib 2 mg or 4 mg with or without concomitant methotrexate (MTX) were enrolled in a phase 3 long-term extension trial (RA-BEYOND; ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01885078) in USA/Puerto Rico. Patients were vaccinated with 13-serotype pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-13) and TTV. Primary endpoints were the proportion of patients achieving a satisfactory humoral response for PCV-13 (≥ 2-fold increase in anti-pneumococcal antibody concentrations in ≥ 6 serotypes) and TTV (≥ 4-fold increase in anti-tetanus concentrations) at 5 weeks post-vaccination. Secondary endpoints included humoral responses at 12 weeks and functional responses of serotypes 4, 6B, 14, and 23F (twofold and fourfold increases in opsonic indexes at 5 and 12 weeks).


Of 106 patients with a mean duration of RA of approximately 12 years, 80% were female, 30% were taking corticosteroids, and 89% (N = 94) were taking baricitinib plus MTX; most patients (97% PCV-13/96% TTV) completed the evaluations. Overall, 68% (95% CI 58.4, 76.2) of patients achieved a satisfactory response to PCV-13, 43% (34.0, 52.8) achieved a ≥ 4-fold increase in anti-tetanus concentrations, and 74% (64.2, 81.1) achieved a ≥ 2-fold increase. PCV-13 response was similar for patients taking corticosteroids (71%; 53.4, 83.9) vs those not (67%; 55.2, 76.5). The percentage of sera with a ≥ 2-fold increase in post-vaccination opsonic indexes at week 5 ranged from 47% (serotype 14) to 76% (serotype 6B). Through 12 weeks post-vaccination, seven patients (6.6%) reported injection-site events. There were no deaths during the substudy, and three patients experienced a serious adverse event.


Approximately two thirds of patients on long-term baricitinib achieved satisfactory humoral and functional responses to PCV-13 vaccination, while TTV responses were less robust. PCV-13 response was not diminished in those taking concomitant corticosteroids.


ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01885078 . Registered on 24 June 2013.