Tocilizumab for Relapsing and Remitting Giant Cell Arteritis

A Case Series

Pratyasha Saha; Denesh Srikantharajah; Arvind Kaul; Nidhi Sofat


J Med Case Reports. 2022;16(389) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Giant cell arteritis is a large vessel vasculitis of the arteries in the head and neck. The mainstay of management is with high-dose corticosteroids, and patients often face difficulties stopping or reducing steroids without recurrence of symptoms. Corticosteroids are well established to have numerous associated side effects, including osteoporosis, weight gain, and diabetes. Therefore, when tocilizumab was approved for up to 1 year for cases of relapsing or refractory giant cell arteritis by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in April 2018, this offered an opportunity to benefit from new funding and to reduce steroid burden.

Case Presentation: This case series describes the impact of the establishment of a new hub and spoke referral pathway for the use of tocilizumab in refractory or relapsing giant cell arteritis, with case examples from consecutive patients who accessed the funding between August 2018 and April 2021. A total of 16 patients were identified: 11 female and 5 male, with an average age of 72.4 (range 61–82) years, with a majority of 11 ethnically white. The central assessing hub is St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust Hospital, serving a population of 1.3 million in the south of England. This is the first large case series looking into the impact of the establishment of a regional clinical pathway for the new tocilizumab funding.

Conclusions: The case series demonstrates that the use of tocilizumab has reduced both the duration and the dose of corticosteroids in these 16 cases (mean prednisolone reduction 20.4 mg: 95% CI 13.0–27.8 mg), with 50% of patients continuing on tocilizumab after the initial 12 month funding period. The disease course, patterns of response, and maintenance of remission are discussed, and we describe the benefits of replicating this hub and spoke tocilizumab pathway in other centers.