Magnetic resonance angiography in giant cell arteritis: results of a randomized controlled trial of tocilizumab in giant cell arteritis

Reichenbach, Stephan; Adler, Sabine; Bonel, Harald; Cullmann, Jennifer L; Kuchen, Stefan; Bütikofer, Lukas; Seitz, Michael; Villiger, Peter M (2018). Magnetic resonance angiography in giant cell arteritis: results of a randomized controlled trial of tocilizumab in giant cell arteritis. Rheumatology, 57(6), pp. 982-986. Oxford University Press 10.1093/rheumatology/key015

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To analyse magnetic resonance angiographic (MRA) vessel wall signals from a randomized controlled trial of tocilizumab (TCZ) to treat GCA.

Participants were assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive either TCZ + glucocorticoids (GCs) or placebo +GC infusions at 4-week intervals for 52 weeks. GCs were started at 1 mg/kg/day, then tapered to 0.1 mg/kg/day at week 12 and thereafter down to zero. Patients with initial positive MRA findings underwent control MRA at weeks 12 and 52. Vessel wall signals were scored from 0 (normal) to 3 (intense late enhancement). Outcomes were the number of patients with complete MRA remission at weeks 12 and 52, and changes in vasculitis score, vessel anatomy and atherosclerosis.

Of the 30 randomized participants, nine TCZ and two placebo patients had no vessel wall enhancement on initial MRA. At week 12, MRAs were performed in nine TCZ and four placebo patients (nine and three in clinical remission, respectively). Three (33%) TCZ patients showed normalization of vessel wall signals compared with one (25%) placebo patient. At week 52, there was additional MRA improvement in some TCZ patients, but one-third showed persistent or increased late vessel wall enhancement.
There was no formation of aneurysms or stenosis and no increase in atherosclerosis.

Although TCZ resulted in complete clinical and laboratory remission of GCA over 52 weeks, MRA signals in vessel walls normalized in only one-third of patients. Whether these signals are of prognostic
importance remains to be determined.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Dermatology, Urology, Rheumatology, Nephrology, Osteoporosis (DURN) > Clinic of Rheumatology, Clinical Immunology and Allergology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > CTU Bern
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Radiology, Neuroradiology and Nuclear Medicine (DRNN) > Institute of Diagnostic, Interventional and Paediatric Radiology

UniBE Contributor:

Reichenbach, Stephan, Adler, Sabine, Bonel, Harald Marcel, Cullmann, Jennifer, Kuchen, Stefan, Bütikofer, Lukas (B), Seitz, Michael, Villiger, Peter Matthias


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




Oxford University Press




Tanya Karrer

Date Deposited:

09 Mar 2018 11:13

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:35

Publisher DOI:


Additional Information:

Stephan Reichenbach and Sabine Adler contributed equally to this work

Uncontrolled Keywords:

giant cell arteritis, tocilizumab, relapse, glucocorticoids, MRA




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