Study on Xeljanz Suggests Drug is Helpful for People with Lupus
In a small study of 10 people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), tofacitinib (Xeljanz®) therapy quickly resolved arthritis symptoms in four people while six individuals saw their skin rash improve.
Tofacitinib is typically used to treat arthritis and ulcerative colitis and is used off label to treat SLE in some people. The drug inhibits janus kinases (JAK) signals which play a key role in cytokines. Cytokines are proteins released by cells that have an effect on the interactions, communications or behavior of cells, and include molecules (interleukins and interferons) that trigger inflammation and response to infections.
The small group of nine women and one man received 5 mg of tofacitinib two times per day and were monitored from four weeks to 12 months. While the sample size of this study is a major limitation, tofacitinib was found to rapidly improve the symptoms and signs of arthritis and partially improve skin rash in people with lupus. The researchers concluded that further studies are needed to confirm tofacitinib’s efficacy and define its specific indication in people with lupus. Learn about finding the treatment approach for you.