2023 International Consensus Guidance for the use of Tripterygium Wilfordii Hook F in the treatment of active rheumatoid arthritis

Xuan Zhang, Jun Xia, Ying Jiang, David S. Pisetsky, Josef S. Smolen, Rong Mu, Shengming Dai, Michael E. Weinblatt, Tore K. Kvien, Juan Li, Thomas Dörner, Yu Zhang, Liwei Lu, Chengde Yang, Pingting Yang, Yuan Zhang, Chenchen Xu, Zhan Zhao, Peter E. Lipsky

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


Background: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the joints and produces pain, swelling, and stiffness. It has a lifetime prevalence of up to 1% worldwide. An extract of Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F (TwHF), a member of the Celastraceae herbal family widely available in south China, has been used for treatment of RA since 1960s. Methods: The current consensus practice guidance (CPG) aims to offer guidance on the application of TwHF in the clinical management of active RA. The CPG followed World Health Organisation (WHO)'s recommended process, carried out three systematic reviews to synthesize data from 19 randomised controlled trials (RCT) involving 1795 participants. We utilized Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) to evaluate certainty of evidence and derive recommendations. We rigorously followed The Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation II (AGREE II) as conduct guides to minimise bias and promote transparency. Results: There was no obvious difference between TwHF monotherapy and methotrexate (MTX) monotherapy on ACR20 (RCT = 2, N = 390, RR = 1.06, 95%CI 0.90–1.26, moderate certainty), ACR50 (RCT = 3, N = 419, RR = 1.03, 95%CI 0.80–1.34, moderate certainty), ACR70 (RCT = 2, N = 390, RR = 1.12, 95%CI 0.69–1.79, low certainty). TwHF monotherapy may be better than salicylazosulfapyridine monotherapy on ACR20 and the effect may be similar on ACR50 and ACR70. Seven RCTs compared MTX combined with TwHF versus MTX monotherapy, and the meta-analysis results favoured combination therapy group on ACR20 (RCT = 3, N = 470, RR = 1.44, 95%CI 1.28–1.62, moderate certainty), ACR50 (RCT = 4, N = 500, RR = 1.88, 95%CI 1.56–2.28, moderate certainty) and ACR70 (RCT = 2, N = 390, RR = 2.12, 95%CI 1.40–3.19, low certainty). We found no obvious difference between groups on critical safety outcomes, including infection (RCT = 3, N = 493, RR = 1.37, 95%CI 0.84–2.23), liver dysfunction (RCT = 5, N = 643, RR = 1.14, 95%CI 0.71–1.85), renal damage (RCT = 3, N = 450, RR = 2.20, 95%CI 0.50–9.72). Conclusion: Upon full review of the evidence, the guidance panel reached consensus on recommendations for the use of TwHF in people with active RA, either as monotherapy or as combination therapy with MTX.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103148
JournalJournal of Autoimmunity
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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