Faculty Articles

Treatment of Adults with Idiopathic Recurrent Pericarditis: Novel Use of Immunotherapy.

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Idiopathic recurrent pericarditis (IRP) can be challenging to treat. Even after guideline-directed first-line treatment consisting of aspirin (ASA) or a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) in combination with colchicine therapy, recurrences still occur in greater than 20% of patients. Many patients then require treatment with long-term corticosteroids, which is not a favorable option due to their short- and long-term adverse effects. Because it is theorized that the pathophysiology of IRP may possess autoimmune sequelae, the use of immunotherapy for the treatment of IRP has emerged. In this review, we describe the literature associated with immunotherapy used to treat IRP in an adult population as well as provide an overview of the safety and monitoring parameters for each agent. The most common immunotherapies used after patients have had multiple recurrences of IRP are anakinra, intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), and azathioprine. In most cases, these immunotherapies are adjunctive therapy, with the goal of tapering and discontinuing immunosuppressive corticosteroids. After reviewing the data, anakinra resulted in more patients discontinuing corticosteroids and prevented further recurrences of pericarditis. IVIG resulted in symptom resolution and no further recurrences in most of the patients. Azathioprine was associated with more than half of patients becoming recurrence free; however, many patients required a restart of corticosteroids due to recurrence. Clinicians should be aware of the adverse effects of immunotherapy, ranging from mild gastrointestinal events to risk of infection and serious blood dyscrasias that may require diligent monitoring. The use of immunotherapy for the treatment of adults with IRP should be restricted to patients who have multiple recurrences. Ideally, immunotherapy would be adjunctive to first-line combination therapy with ASA/NSAID plus colchicine, with the goal of tapering and discontinuing immunosuppressive corticosteroids. Furthermore, clinicians should consider cost, drug-drug and drug-disease interactions, and safety, as well as the quality of the retrospective evidence before considering any immunotherapy.


Medicine and Health Sciences | Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences


Adult, Azathioprine, Glucocorticoids, Humans, Immunoglobulins, Intravenous, Immunosuppressive Agents, Immunotherapy, Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein, Pericarditis, Recurrence

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