Clinical and epidemiological research

Extended report

Low immunogenicity of tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Open Access

Gerd R Burmester, Ernest Choy, Alan Kivitz, Atsushi Ogata, Min Bao, Akira Nomura, Stuart Lacey, Jinglan Pei, William Reiss, Attila Pethoe-Schramm, Navita L Mallalieu, Thomas Wallace, Margaret Michalska, Herbert Birnboeck, Kay Stubenrauch, Mark C Genovese

Published Online First 22 December 2016



Subcutaneous (SC) and intravenous formulations of tocilizumab (TCZ) are available for the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), based on the efficacy and safety observed in clinical trials. Anti-TCZ antibody development and its impact on safety and efficacy were evaluated in adult patients with RA treated with intravenous TCZ (TCZ-IV) or TCZ-SC as monotherapy or in combination with conventional synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (csDMARDs).


Data from 5 TCZ-SC and 8 TCZ-IV phase III clinical trials and 1 TCZ-IV clinical pharmacology safety study (>50 000 samples) were pooled to assess the immunogenicity profile of TCZ-SC and TCZ-IV (8974 total patients). The analysis included antidrug antibody (ADA) measurement following TCZ-SC or TCZ-IV treatment as monotherapy or in combination with csDMARDs, after dosing interruptions or in TCZ-washout samples, and the correlation of ADAs with clinical response, adverse events or pharmacokinetics (PK).


The proportion of patients who developed ADAs following TCZ-SC or TCZ-IV treatment was 1.5% and 1.2%, respectively. ADA development was also comparable between patients who received TCZ monotherapy and those who received concomitant csDMARDs (0.7–2.0%). ADA development did not correlate with PK or safety events, including anaphylaxis, hypersensitivity or injection-site reactions, and no patients who developed ADAs had loss of efficacy.


The immunogenicity risk of TCZ-SC and TCZ-IV treatment was low, either as monotherapy or in combination with csDMARDs. Anti-TCZ antibodies developed among the small proportion of patients had no evident impact on PK, efficacy or safety