Ankylosing spondylitis: diagnostic challenges and efficacy of upadacitinib

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Ankylosing spondilitis (AS) is a relatively common disease mainly affecting young males and presenting with chronic inflammation of the spine and the sacroiliac joints. AS is one of the forms of axial spondyloarthritis (SpA). Diagnosis of AS is usually delayed on average by 8-10 years from the first symptoms. SpA should be considered both in males and females who present with chronic low back pain starting before the age of 45 years and at least one additional factor (inflammatory back pain, HLA-B27, sacroileitis, peripheral arthritis, enthesitis, dactylitis, psoriasis, uveitis, inflammatory bowel disease, family history for SpA, elevated ESR and/or C-reactive protein, and good response to NSAIDs). Such patients should be referred to rheumatologist. MRI improves early diagnosis of AS since it detects inflammatory changes, which precede structural damage of the sacroiliac joints (nonradiographic SpA). Physical exercises and NSAIDs are the first-line treatment for AS, whereas TNF and interleukin-17 inhibitors are widely used as a second-line therapy. Upadacitinib is the first JAK-inhibitor that was approved for the treatment of active AS in adult patients who have responded inadequately to conventional therapy. The authors discuss clinical cases demonstrating efficacy of upadacinitib in patients with AS.

Key words

Ankylosing spondylitis, axial spondyloarthritis, JAK-inhibitors, upadacitinib