Researchers in Denmark highlight similarities and differences between autoimmune diseases in a scientific review of results from randomized clinical trials with targeted therapies

An autoimmune disease is a chronic condition where the immune system causes an inflammatory condition in one or several organs. Inflammation can be in the bowel system, the skin or joints. Estimates show that close to 400,000 Danes suffer from one or more autoimmune diseases.

Some of the autoimmune diseases may be related. Psoriasis, spondylarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, the inflammatory bowel diseases Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis as well as uveitis constitute a particular group of autoimmune diseases. If you have one of the diseases, there is an increased risk of getting one or more of the other diseases.

In recent years, a number of drugs ihibiting specific parts of the over-active immune system have been developed and approved. Many of these drugs have now been tested in several different diseases. Sometimes they have an effect and sometimes they do not. If therapeutic neutralization of a specific disease-promoting signaling molecule does not improve the condition of a certain disease, the conclusion is that this signaling molecule is not critical in that particular disease.

Researchers at Aarhus University and the National Center for Autoimmune Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark have reviewed all drugs with at least one approved indication for treatment of psoriasis, spondylarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease or uveitis.

- We believe that the work can be used to choose the best treatment for patients with more than one of these diseases, says Kasper Fjellhaugen Hjuler, MD and PhD.

There were two specific purposes with this work. First, to create an overview of the drugs used in treatment of patients with two or more of these diseases. Second, to describe differences and similarities in the underlying immunological mechanisms of these diseases.

- The results indicate that these diseases are different symptoms defined by the underlying immunological mechanisms, says Tue Wenzel Kragstrup, MD and PhD.

The research is unique in an international context because it crosses medical specialties. Hopefully, the results can spur further research in causes and possible treatments of patients with autoimmune diseases.


Behind the research result:

Study design: Literature review

Collaborators: The National Center for Autoimmune Diseases, Aarhus University Hospital and Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University

External financing: Tue Wenzel Kragstrup has received funding from the Independent Research Fund Denmark

Conflicts of interest: Several co-authors of the article have collaborated with pharmaceutical companies producing drugs which are part of the treatment of the diseases described in the article. Details of the conflicts of interest appear in the article. No pharmaceutical companies have contributed directly with support or content for the research work

Read the scientific article:

Brüner M, Dige A, Loft AG, Laurberg TB, Agnholt JS, Clemmensen K, McInnes I, Lories R, Iversen L, Hjuler KF, Kragstrup TW. Spondylitis-psoriasis-enthesitis-enterocolitis-dactylitis-uveitis-peripheral synovitis (SPEED-UP) treatment. Autoimmunity Reviews.


Further information:

Tue Wenzel Kragstrup, MD, PhD, Department of Biomedicine, Skou Building, Høegh-Guldbergs Gade 10, Aarhus Universitet, 8000 Aarhus C, E-mail: kragstrup@biomed.au.dk, Tel.: +45 8716 7265

Kasper Fjellhaugen Hjuler, MD, PhD, The National Center for Autoimmune Diseases, Aarhus Univeristy Hospital, Palle Juul-Jensens Boulevard 99, 8200 Aarhus N, E-mail: dochjuler@gmail.com, Tel.: +45 7011 3131