Condition category
Musculoskeletal Diseases
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Prospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a type of arthris that usually develops in people with the skin condition psoriasis (a skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty patches of skin covered with silvery scales). PsA causes painful inflammation (swelling) and stiffness in the joints. In PsA, like in psoriasis alone, it is thought to be caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissue (autoimmune disease). This study is being carried out to investigate the effects of a drug called secukinumab on patients with psoriatic arthritis. Secukinumab is medication which works by reducing the effects of chemical substances in the body that lead to inflammation (immunosuppressant). This will be done by investigating the effects on components of the blood, including white blood cells (which fight infection), vitamin D and cytokines (small proteins that help cells communicate with each other) in people with PsA and on the blood of healthy participants.

Who can participate?
Adults with PsA who have not previously had biologic therapy and healthy adults who are employed at University of Liverpool or Aintree University hospitals.

What does the study involve?
Participants with PsA are randomly allocated to one of two groups. Those in the first group receive standard treatment, which involves being treated with normal disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs, a group of drugs used to treat artritis by reducing inflammation and reducing damage to the joints). Those in the second group receive four injections just below the skin (subcutaneous injections) of 150 - 300 mg subcutaneous injections at weekly intervals, followed by regular injections of 150mg once a month for a total of 12 months, as well as standard treatment with DMARDs. At the start of the study, and then after 3, 6, 9 and 12 months, participants have a sample of blood taken so that white blood cell, vitamin D and cytokine concentrations can be measured. The healthy participants provide a sample of blood at the same timepoints which is then tested for neutrophil (a type of white blood cell which help fight infection by ingesting microorganisms and releasing enzymes that kill the microorganisms) levels, which are then compared to the results of the participants with PsA.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
There are no direct benefits involved with participating in this study. There is a small risk of pain, bruising or infection when blood samples are taken.

Where is the study run from?
Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (UK)

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
June 2014 to February 2019

Who is funding the study?
Novartis Pharma AG (UK)

Who is the main contact?
Dr Laurence Loubiere

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Dr Laurence Loubiere


Contact details

Cancer Research UK Liverpool Cancer Trials Unit
University of Liverpool
Block C
Waterhouse Building
1-3 Brownlow Street
L69 3GL
United Kingdom
+44 151 795 5261

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number

2015-004502-42 number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

SATURN: An exploration of the dynamic interaction between IL-17, IL-17 inhibition with (secukinumab) and neutrophils in psoriatic arthritis in vitro and ex vivo with exploratory study on the potential role of Vitamin D



Study hypothesis

The aim of this study is to investigate, in detail, the clinical and molecular effects of IL-17 and inhibition of IL-17 with secukinumab, on neutrophil function in vitro and ex vivo. In addition, the secondary and exploratory aims are to explore the potential relationship between vitamin D on neutrophil function and response to IL-17 inhibition in psoriatic arthritis.

Ethics approval

North West - Liverpool Central Research Ethics Committee, 10/02/2016, ref: 16/NW/0006

Study design

Randomised; Interventional; Design type: Treatment, Drug, Immunotherapy

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting


Trial type


Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet


Specialty: Musculoskeletal disorders, Primary sub-specialty: Inflammatory arthritis; UKCRC code/ Disease: Musculoskeletal/ Other disorders of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue


Patients with PsA are allocated to intervention and control arms in a 4:1 ratio by means of computer generated random permuted blocks of size 5. No stratification factors are included.

Control arm: Participants receive standard disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARD) therapy. This includes Methotrexate (5mg-25mg orally or subcutaniously) once a week, Sulphasalazine (500mg-1g orally) twice a day and Leflunomide (10mg-20mg orally) once a day for 12 months.

Intervention arm: Participants are treated with Secukinumab and receive four 150 - 300 mg subcutaneous injections at weekly intervals, followed by regular injections 150mg once a month thereafter for a total of 12 months, in addition to standard DMARD therapy (as above).

Participants in both groups are followed up a 3, 6, 9 and 12 months post treatment.

The healthy controls will be recruited from staff at the University of Liverpool or Aintree University hospitals and who are not taking nor have taken over the preceding 6 months, any immunosuppressive agent including systemic corticosteroids and whose health is otherwise good. There will be an equal balance of males to females. The healthy controls will provide one sample of blood for neutrophil studies (in vitro work).
The effects of adding exogenous IL-17 and of inhibiting this cytokine by secukinumab, on highly-purified neutrophils isolated from the blood of 10 healthy controls, will be determined. Neutrophil survival will be recorded together with full details on priming of respiratory burst, expression of integrins and other opsono-receptors, apoptosis, phagocytosis and chemotaxis. Experiments will be repeated after neutrophil preparations have been “spiked” with contaminating PBMC’s. If these experiments indicate that the effects of IL-17 on neutrophils are indirect, we will determine the mechanism of PBMC activation. For example, this will include measurement of IL-17 derived neutrophil activating cytokines (by ELISA or multiplex) and/or using blocking monoclonal antibodies.

Intervention type



Phase II

Drug names


Primary outcome measures

1. Neutrophil phenotype is measured by quantifying receptor expression (n=7) using flow cytometry assays at baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months post treatment
2. Neutrophil lifespan is measured by quantifying apoptosis using flow cytometry assays at baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months post treatment
3. Function and production of IL-17 in response to secukinumab is measured using ELISA assays at baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months post treatment on healthy controls

Secondary outcome measures

1. Vitamin D status is measured using routine blood test measuring the amount of Vitamin D at baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months post treatment
2. Vitamin D receptor is measured using flow cytometry assays at baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months post treatment
3. Clinical response is measured using ACR20, PASI75, PASI90 and NAPSI measurements at baseline, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months post treatment
4. Quality of Life is measured using EQ5D and HAQ scores collected at baseline, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months post treatment
5. Toxicity is measured by the number and percent of patients with adverse event, serious adverse events, infections and serious infections, malignancies, acute injection site reactions and immunogenicity at baseline, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months post treatment

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned


Participant inclusion criteria

Inclusion criteria for healthy controls:
1. Not taking or have taken over the preceding 6 months any immunosuppressive agents including corticosteroid
2. Healthy
3. Able to given consent
4. Aged over 18 years

Inclusion criteria for Patients with PsA:
1. Active psoriatic arthritis (fulfilling CASPAR criteria) affecting ≥2 peripheral joints (swollen and tender) that have not responded to at least two standard DMARDs
2. All meet CASPAR criteria for diagnosis of PsA
3. Be rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) negative at screening
4. Have had no prior exposure to biologic therapy
5. Not have received parenteral glucocorticosteroids in the 6 weeks prior to the baseline assessment
6. If taking oral glucocorticoids remain on a stable dose of <10mg throughout the study with no change in dose in the 6 weeks prior to baseline assessment,
7. If taking methotrexate or other DMARDs remain on a stable dose throughout the study and not have changed dose or therapy for 6 weeks prior to the baseline assessment
8. Able to given consent
9. Aged over 18 years

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants

Planned Sample Size: 35; UK Sample Size: 35

Participant exclusion criteria

Exclusion criteria for healthy controls:
Taking or have taken over the preceding 6 months any immunosuppressive agents including corticosteroid.

Exclusion criteria for Patients with PsA:
1. Active or chronic infection including mycobacterium tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis B or C , Hep B or C
2. Absence of active psoriatic arthritis
3. Patients who are starting anti-TNF therapy for treating PsA
4. Pregnancy or planning conception or pregnancy. The patient information sheet will state that “if you wish to become pregnant, you need to wait for a minimum of 20 weeks after receiving the last dose of the study medication.”
5. Malignancy
6. Chest X-ray or chest MRI with evidence of ongoing infectious or malignant processobtained within 3 months prior to Screening and evaluated by a qualified physician
7. Previous exposure to secukinumab or other biologic drug directly targeting IL-17 or IL-17 receptor
8. Patients taking high-potency opioid analgesics (e.g. methadone, hydromorphone, morphine)
9. Use of any investigational drug and/or devices within 4 weeks before randomization or a period of 5 half-lives of the investigational drug, whichever is longer
10. Significant comorbidity that, in the opinion of the investigator, would impact on ability to participate
11. Any change in the dose of oral glucocorticosteroids or DMARDS in the prior 6 weeks prior to the Baseline visit or use of i.v. intramuscular or intra-articular glucocorticosteroid during the last 6 weeks prior to the enrollment visit
12. Patients who have previously been treated with TNFα inhibitors (investigational or approved)
13. History of hypersensitivity to the study drug or its excipients or to drugs of similar classes
14. Previous treatment with any cell-depleting therapies including but not limited to anti-CD20 investigational agents (e.g. CAMPATH, anti-CD4, anti-CD5, anti-CD3,anti-CD19)
15. Pregnant or lactating women, where pregnancy is defined as the state of a female after conception and until the termination of gestation, confirmed by a positive human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) laboratory test
16. Women of child-bearing potential, defined as all women physiologically capable of becoming pregnant, unless they are using effective methods of contraception during the entire study or longer if required by locally approved prescribing information
17. Active ongoing inflammatory diseases other than PsA that might confound the evaluation of the benefit of secukinumab therapy
18. Underlying metabolic, hematologic, renal, hepatic, pulmonary, neurologic, endocrine,cardiac, infectious or gastrointestinal conditions which in the opinion of the Investigator immunocompromise the patient and/or place the patient at unacceptable risk for participation in an immunomodulatory therapy
19. Significant medical problems or diseases, including but not limited to the following: uncontrolled hypertension (≥ 160/95 mmHg), congestive heart failure (New York Heart Association status of class III or IV), uncontrolled diabetes
20. History of clinically significant liver disease or liver injury as indicated by abnormal liver function tests (LFT) such as aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase, or serum bilirubin. The Investigator should be guided by the following criteria:
1. Any single parameter may not exceed 2 x upper limit of normal (ULN). A single parameter elevated up to and including 2 x ULN should be re-checked once more as soon as possible, and in all cases, at least prior to enrollment/randomization, to rule out laboratory error.
2. If the total bilirubin concentration is increased above 2 x ULN, total bilirubin should be differentiated into the direct and indirect reacting bilirubin. In any case, serum bilirubin should not exceed 1.6 mg/dL (27 μmol/L)
21. History of renal trauma, glomerulonephritis, or patients with 1 kidney only, or a serum creatinine level exceeding 1.5 mg/dL (132.6 μmol/L)
22. Screening total white blood cell (WBC) count < 3 000/μL, or platelets < 100 000/μL or neutrophils < 1 500/μL or hemoglobin < 8.5 g/dL (85 g/L)
23. Active systemic infections during the last 2 weeks (exception: common cold) prior to randomization
24. History of ongoing, chronic or recurrent infectious disease or evidence of tuberculosis infection as defined by either a positive purified protein derivative (PPD) skin test (the size of induration will be measured after 48-72 hours, and a positive result is defined as an induration of ≥ 5 mm or according to local practice/guidelines) or a positive QuantiFERON TB-Gold test (as indicated in Section 6.5.4 and Table 6-1). Patients with a positive test may participate in the study if further work up (according to local practice/guidelines) establishes conclusively that the patient has no evidence of active tuberculosis. If presence of latent tuberculosis is established then treatment according to local country guidelines must have been initiated
25. Known infection with human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis B or hepatitis C at Screening or randomization
26. Use of Vitamin D containing supplements

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Longmoor Lane
L9 7AL
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


University of Liverpool

Sponsor details

The Foundation Building
765 Brownlow Hill
L69 7ZX
United Kingdom

Sponsor type

Hospital/treatment centre



Funder type


Funder name

Novartis Pharma AG

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

The results will be analysed and published as soon as possible after the trial has been closed (after last patient recruited has attended his/her last trial visit).

Intention to publish date


Participant level data

Not provided at time of registration

Results - basic reporting

Publication summary

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes

14/10/2016: The recruitment start date has been updated from 01/08/2016 to 14/10/2016