Management of juvenile idiopathic arthritis: hitting the target
The treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is evolving. The growing number of effective drugs has led to successful treatment and prevention of long-term sequelae in most patients. Although patients with JIA frequently achieve lasting clinical remission, sustained remission off medication is still elusive for most. Treatment approaches vary substantially among paediatric rheumatologists owing to the inherent heterogeneity of JIA and, until recently, to the lack of accepted and well-evidenced guidelines. Furthermore, many pertinent questions related to patient management remain unanswered, in particular regarding treatment targets, and selection, intensity and sequence of initiation or withdrawal of therapy. Existing JIA guidelines and recommendations do not specify treat-to-target or tight control strategies, in contrast to adult rheumatology in which these approaches have been successful. The concepts of window of opportunity (early treatment to improve long-term outcomes) and immunological remission (abrogation of subclinical disease activity) are also fundamental when defining treatment methodologies. This Review explores the application of these concepts to JIA and their possible contribution to the development of future clinical guidelines or consensus treatment protocols. The article also discusses how diverse forms of standardized, guideline-led care and personalized treatment can be combined into a targeted, patient-centred approach to optimize management strategies for patients with JIA.