Prediction of response to anti-TNF treatment using laboratory biomarkers in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review

Maike H.M. Wientjes*, Alfons A. Den Broeder, Paco M.J. Welsing, Lise M. Verhoef, Bart J.F. Van Den Bemt

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objectives In this systematic review, we aim to identify laboratory biomarkers that predict response to tumour necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFi) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Methods EMBASE, PubMed and Cochrane Library (CENTRAL) were searched for studies that presented predictive accuracy measures of laboratory biomarkers, or in which these were calculable. Likelihood ratios were calculated in order to determine whether a test result relevantly changed the probability of response. Likelihood ratios between 2-10 and 0.5-0.1 were considered weak predictors, respectively, and ratios above 10 or below 0.1 were considered strong predictors of response. Primary focus was on biomarkers studied ≥3 times. Results From 41 included studies, data on 99 different biomarkers were extracted. Five biomarkers were studied ≥3 times, being (1) anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP), (2) rheumatoid factor, (3) -308 polymorphism in the TNF-α gene, (4) SE copies in the HLA-DRB1 gene and (5) FcGR2A polymorphism. No studies showed a strong predictive association and only one study on anti-CCP showed a weak positive association. Conclusions No biomarkers were found that consistently showed a (strong) predictive effect for response to TNFi in patients with RA. Given the disappointing yield of previous predictive biomarker research, future studies should focus on exploring, combining and validating the most promising laboratory biomarkers identified in this review, and searching for new predictors. Besides this, they should focus on contexts where prediction-aided decision-making can have a large impact (even with limited predictive value of markers/models). PROSPERO registration number CRD42021278987.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere002570
JournalRMD Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2022


  • Adalimumab
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid
  • Epidemiology
  • Etanercept
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitors


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