AIMS: Infliximab is a tumour necrosis factor-alpha inhibitor that is used to treat children with refractory Kawasaki disease (KD). Our purpose was to evaluate the safety and impact of infliximab versus intravenous immunoglobulins on the incidence of coronary artery aneurysms (CAAs) and treatment resistance in children with refractory KD.
METHODS: The Medline/PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and clinical trials registries were searched to December 2021. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing infliximab as second-line therapy to a second dose of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) in children with refractory KD, reported in abstract or full text, were included. Studies were selected and assessed for risk of bias by two reviewers. Data were extracted and pooled using conventional random-effects meta-analysis. The certainty of evidence was assessed using the GRADE system.
RESULTS: A total of 199 participants from four RCTs were included. The pooled risk ratio (RR) for the incidence of treatment resistance in patients treated with infliximab was 0.40 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.25-0.64). For incidence of CAAs RR was 1.20 (95% CI 0.54-2.63), the incidence of adverse effect "infusion reactions" RR was 0.48, (95% CI 0.12-1.92) and for "infections" RR was 0.55 (95% CI 0.27-1.12). Overall, the GRADE strength of evidence for the primary outcomes was low. Evidence on the duration of fever and inflammatory biomarkers was sparse, heterogeneous and inconclusive.
CONCLUSION: Moderate-certainty evidence indicates that infliximab may reduce the incidence of treatment resistance in children with refractory KD. However, the limited strength of evidence warrants further research.