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Numerous biologics are currently licensed for the treatment of psoriasis, including new drugs targeting interleukin-17 (IL-17) and interleukin-23 (IL-23). This meta-analysis evaluated the short-term (12–16 weeks) efficacy and safety of biologics targeting IL-17 and IL-23 in the treatment of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. Twenty-one randomized clinical trials met the defined inclusion criteria. Our results showed that Ixekizumab (160 mg wk0 + 80 mg q2w) had the greatest probability of achieving both PASI 75 (RR 21.32, 95% CI 15.48–29.36, P < 0.00001) and PASI 90 response (RR 59.76, 95% CI 32.41–110.19, P < 0.00001) at the primary endpoint times, followed by Ustekinumab and Secukinumab. Regarding the safety profile, Tildtakizumab (200 mg, q4w) was safest (RR 0.88, 95% CI 0.78–0.99, P = 0.04), while Ixekizumab (160 mg wk0 + 80 mg q2w) showed highest risk for one or more AE (RR 1.26, 95% CI 1.15–1.38, P < 0.00001). However, there was no significant difference between the two biologics regarding one or more SAEs. Comparing to the biologics targeting IL-23, the pooled effect size favored the biological agents targeting IL-17 in terms of the PASI 75 (PASI 75: RR 17.28, 95% CI 14.51–20.58, P < 0.00001) and PASI 90 (RR 37.19, 95% CI 26.91–51.41, P < 0.00001). The rate of overall AEs was significantly higher (P < 0.00001) in biologics targeting the IL-17 (RR 1.18, 95% CI 1.12–1.24, P < 0.00001) compared to biologics targeting IL-23 (RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.91–1.04, P = 0.44), and with respect to one or more SAEs, no difference was seen between biologics targeting IL-17 and IL-23. This meta-analysis found that Ixekizumab was the most effective short-term treatment, but was ranked as the most risk therapeutic choice among the biologics involved in this study, while Tildtakizumab was the best alternative in the case of safety. Furthermore, it demonstrated that biologics inhibiting IL-17 were superior to biologics targeting IL-23 in terms of the efficacy, but posed higher risk at the same time. This study might help the clinicians and guideline developers to choose the optimal one among these biologics for the treatment of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis.Ixekizumab showed highest efficacy and risk in the treatment of plaque psoriasis.The safest biologics was Tildtakizumab among the agents targeting IL-17 and IL-23.Biologics inhibiting IL-17 had better efficacy than biologics targeting IL-23.Biologics inhibiting IL-23 were shown to be safer than biologics targeting IL-17.