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1.  Outcome of rheumatoid arthritis following adjunct statin therapy 
Indian Journal of Pharmacology  2015;47(6):605-609.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by symmetric peripheral polyarthritis, inflammatory synovitis, and articular destruction. Statins, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A-reductase inhibitors, mediate significant vascular risk reduction in patients with coronary artery disease by promoting reduction in plasma levels of low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol. Extensive in vitro data, experimental studies and more recently few clinical trials have strongly suggested statins to possess an important role in RA mainly mediated by their anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of adjunct statin therapy in comparison to standard disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARD) therapy in patients with RA.
Materials and Methods:
In this observational study, diagnosed RA patients of age group between 40 and 60 years were selected as per the inclusion criteria from the rheumatology outdoor. From the selected patients, we identified two separate groups of patients. Group 1 included 30 patients of RA currently under DMARD therapy with adjunct statin medication. Group 2 included 30 patients of RA currently under DMARD therapy. Patients were followed up over 6 months. Standard parameters such as disease activity score (DAS28), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and C-reactive protein (CRP) were recorded for comparing the outcome of RA in both groups.
Out of a total of 60 patients who took part in the study, significant beneficial role of adjunct statin medication was found in this study when prescribed along with conventional DMARDs in active RA patients. The mean DAS28, considered by far as the most important index of clinical disease activity in RA, was found to be significantly lower (P < 0.05) in the adjunct statin-treated group (group 1) than that of the conventional DMARD treated group (group 2) after 6 months of continuous therapy. Other two important biochemical markers of RA disease activity, that is, ESR and CRP were also found to be significantly lower (P < 0.05) in RA patients who were on adjunct statin medication (group 1) than in group 2 comprising RA patients only under conventional DMARDs therapy without statin medication.
The results suggest an adjunct and potentially beneficial role of statin therapy in active cases of RA, producing significant clinical and biochemical improvement.
PMCID: PMC4689012  PMID: 26729950
3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A-reductase inhibitors; disease activity score 28; disease modifying antirheumatic drugs; rheumatoid arthritis; statins
2.  Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs are associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a case control study 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by inflammation and an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). This study investigates possible associations between CVD and the use of conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in RA. Using a case control design, 613 RA patients (5,649 patient-years) were studied, 72 with CVD and 541 without CVD. Data on RA, CVD and drug treatment were evaluated from time of RA diagnosis up to the first cardiovascular event or the end of the follow-up period. The dataset was categorized according to DMARD use: sulfasalazine (SSZ), hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) or methotrexate (MTX). Odds ratios (ORs) for CVD, corrected for age, gender, smoking and RA duration, were calculated per DMARD group. Patients who never used SSZ, HCQ or MTX were used as a reference group. MTX treatment was associated with a significant CVD risk reduction, with ORs (95% CI): 'MTX only', 0.16 (0.04 to 0.66); 'MTX and SSZ ever', 0.20 (0.08 to 0.51); and 'MTX, SSZ and HCQ ever', 0.20 (0.08 to 0.54). The risk reductions remained significant after additional correction for the presence of rheumatoid factor and erosions. After correction for hypertension, diabetes and hypercholesterolemia, 'MTX or SSZ ever' and 'MTX, SSZ and HCQ ever' showed significant CVD risk reduction. Rheumatoid factor positivity and erosions both increased CVD risk, with ORs of 2.04 (1.02 to 4.07) and 2.36 (0.92 to 6.08), respectively. MTX and, to a lesser extent, SSZ were associated with significantly lower CVD risk compared to RA patients who never used SSZ, HCQ or MTX. We hypothesize that DMARD use, in particular MTX use, results in powerful suppression of inflammation, thereby reducing the development of atherosclerosis and subsequently clinically overt CVD.
PMCID: PMC1779436  PMID: 16984661
3.  Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis by molecular-targeted agents: efficacy and limitations 
Journal of Orthopaedic Science  2015;20(6):951-957.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by chronic synovial inflammation due to unknown causes. Conventional synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (csDMARDs), biological DMARDs (bDMARDs), and tofacitinib, a targeted sDMARD, can be used to treat RA. In clinical trials, molecular-targeted therapies showed a significant reduction in RA symptoms and provided pain relief for patients with active RA. Even if patients did not show clinical improvement with combination therapy with a bDMARD and methotrexate (MTX), some patients showed a significant inhibition in structural damage. The clinical efficacies of tofacitinib were shown to be equivalent to adalimumab, a bDMARD, in patients with RA treated with MTX. MTX is the first-line agent for the treatment of RA. Higher doses of MTX might be needed to maintain the effects of bDMARDs. Patients receiving some bDMARDs have been shown to have a higher risk for serious infections; thus, pre-screening for infections is important before beginning treatment with bDMARDs. The rates of patients maintaining targeted levels of disease activity after stopping bDMARDs are relatively low. It is uncertain whether remission or low disease activity can be maintained after stopping molecular-targeted therapies. The development of bDMARDs and targeted-molecular sDMARDs has provided a wide range of treatment options for RA. Patients with active RA should be treated with a treat-to-target strategy after assessment of risks and benefits.
PMCID: PMC4653232  PMID: 26404390
4.  Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug use and the risk of incident hyperlipidemia in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis: A retrospective cohort study 
Arthritis care & research  2015;67(4):457-466.
To compare the risk of incident hyperlipidemia in early rheumatoid arthritis (ERA) patients after initiation of various disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
We conducted a cohort study using insurance claims data (2001–2012) in ERA patients. ERA was defined by the absence of any RA diagnosis or DMARD prescriptions for 12 months. Four mutually exclusive groups were defined based on DMARD initiation, TNF-α inhibitors ± non-biologic (nb) DMARDs, methotrexate ± non-hydroxycholorquine nbDMARDs, hydroxychloroquine ± non-methotrexate nbDMARDs, and other nbDMARDs only. The primary outcome was incident hyperlipidemia, defined by a diagnosis and a prescription for a lipid-lowering agent. For the subgroup of patients with laboratory results available, change in lipid levels was assessed. Multivariable Cox proportional hazard models and propensity score (PS) decile stratification with asymmetric trimming were used to control for confounding.
Of the 17,145 ERA patients included in the study, 364 developed incident hyperlipidemia. The adjusted hazard ratios (95% CI) for hyperlipidemia were 1.41 (0.99–2.00) for TNF-α inhibitors, 0.81 (0.63–1.04) for hydroxychloroquine, and 1.33 (0.95–1.84) for other nbDMARDs compared with methotrexate in the full cohort, while 1.18 (0.80–1.73), 0.75 (0.58–0.98) and 1.41 (1.01–1.98), respectively in the PS trimmed cohort. In the subgroup analysis, hydroxychloroquine use showed significant reduction in low density lipoprotein (−8.9 mg/dl, 95% CI −15.8, −2.0), total cholesterol (−12.3 mg/dl, 95% CI −19.8, −4.8) and triglyceride (−19.5 mg/dl, 95% CI −38.7, −0.3) levels from baseline compared with methotrexate.
Use of hydroxychloroquine may be associated with a lower risk of hyperlipidemia among ERA patients.
PMCID: PMC4751079  PMID: 25302481
5.  Methotrexate in rheumatoid arthritis is frequently effective, even if re-employed after a previous failure 
Effectiveness of therapy with individual disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is limited, and the number of available DMARDs is finite. Therefore, at some stage during the lengthy course of RA, institution of traditional DMARDs that have previously been applied may have to be reconsidered. In the present study we investigated the effectiveness of re-employed methotrexate in patients with a history of previous methotrexate failure (original course). A total of 1,490 RA patients (80% female, 59% rheumatoid factor positive) were followed from their first presentation, yielding a total of 6,470 patient-years of observation. We identified patients in whom methotrexate was re-employed after at least one intermittent course of a different DMARD. We compared reasons for discontinuation, improvement in acute phase reactants, and cumulative retention rates of methotrexate therapy between the original course of methotrexate and its re-employment. Similar analyses were peformed for other DMARDs. Methotrexate was re-employed in 86 patients. Compared with the original courses, re-employment was associated with a reduced risk for treatment termination because of ineffectiveness (P = 0.02, by McNemar test), especially if the maximum methotrexate dose of the original course had been low (<12.5 mg/week; P = 0.02, by logistic regression). In a Cox regression model, re-employed MTX was associated with a significantly reduced hazard of treatment termination compared with the original course of methotrexate, adjusting for dose and year of employment (hazard ratio 0.64, 95% confidence interval 0.42–0.97; P = 0.04). These findings were not recapitulated in analyses of re-employment of other DMARDs. Re-employment of MTX despite prior inefficacy, but not re-employment of other DMARDs, is an effective therapeutic option, especially in those patients in whom the methotrexate dose of the original course was low.
PMCID: PMC1526609  PMID: 16507172
6.  Relationships Among Changes in C-Reactive Protein and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors With Lifestyle Interventions 
Background and Aims
Inflammation plays a role in the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Elevated levels of the inflammatory marker, C-reactive protein (CRP), are cross-sectionally associated with traditional CVD risk factors and are being considered as an emerging CVD risk factor. In a secondary data analysis, we examined changes in CRP and several CVD risk factors after one-year diet and exercise interventions to assess whether CRP changed concurrently with other risk factors, or was independent of the traditional risk factors.
Methods and Results
Data were analyzed from 143 men and 133 women with dyslipidemia who were randomized to one-year interventions of low-fat diet only, physical activity only, diet plus physical activity, or control. Plasma high-sensitivity CRP, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides (TG), fasting and 2-hr blood glucose and insulin, blood pressure (BP), and waist circumference were obtained at baseline and follow-up. Multiple linear regression models were used to predict CRP change based on other risk factor changes, controlling for age, race, alcohol intake, and hormone replacement therapy. Treatment groups were combined for analysis. Baseline mean (SD) CRP levels were 1.3±1.3 (men) and 1.9±1.8 mg/L (women), with mean changes of -0.11±1.3 and -0.17±1.5 mg/L, respectively. Plasma CRP change was negatively associated with TG change in men (p=0.003) and women (p=0.05), positively associated with change in systolic BP in men (p=0.01), but was not associated with changes in the other risk factors.
Dietary and/or physical activity induced changes in CRP may be largely independent of traditional CVD risk factors in persons with dyslipidemia.
PMCID: PMC3502629  PMID: 22831953
C-reactive protein; cardiovascular disease risk; physical activity; low-fat diet; interventions
7.  Rheumatoid arthritis 
BMJ Clinical Evidence  2007;2007:1124.
Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts as a symmetrical polyarthritis, and its course is marked by flares and remissions. The aims of treatment are to relieve pain and swelling, and to improve function. In addition, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may reduce disease progression.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of drug treatments in people with rheumatoid arthritis who have not previously received any disease-modifying antirheumatic drug treatment? How do different drug treatments compare in people with rheumatoid arthritis who have either not responded to or are intolerant of first-line disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library and other important databases up to June 2005 (BMJ Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
We found 62 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: adalimumab, anakinra, antimalarial drugs, azathioprine, ciclosporin, corticosteroids, cyclophosphamide, etanercept, infliximab plus methotrexate, leflunomide, methotrexate (alone; or plus sulfasalazine plus hydroxychloroquine), oral gold, parenteral gold, penicillamine, sulfasalazine.
Key Points
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that mainly affects the peripheral joints and surrounding tissue. It usually starts as a symmetrical polyarthritis, and its course is marked by flares and remissions.The aims of treatment are to relieve pain and swelling, and to improve function. In addition, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may reduce disease progression.
The DMARD methotrexate is widely used as first-line treatment in people with rheumatoid arthritis because of consensus about its effectiveness in practice. Sulfasalazine and combined treatment with methotrexate and sulfasalazine are as effective as methotrexate in improving pain, joint swelling, and function in people with early rheumatoid arthritis who have not previously received DMARDs. Antimalarials may improve symptoms and function in DMARD-naïve people, and are reasonably well tolerated, but radiological evidence of erosion is more marked with antimalarials than with sulfasalazine.
There is a variety of DMARDs available for second-line treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, and we found no clear evidence that one is superior. Methotrexate, sulfasalazine, penicillamine , and leflunomide cause similar improvements in symptoms and function when given to people as second-line DMARD treatment, although methotrexate causes fewer adverse effects.The combination of methotrexate plus sulfasalazine plus hydroxychloroquine is more effective in reducing measures of disease activity in people receiving second-line treatment than any of the drugs used alone. Adding the cytokine inhibitors infliximab or etanercept to methotrexate is more effective than using methotrexate alone.Although antimalarials and oral gold seem to improve clinical disease activity when given as second-line treatment, they are not as effective as methotrexate or sulfasalazine. Although parenteral gold is more effective than oral gold, it leads to higher levels of toxicity than most of the other commonly used DMARDs. Ciclosporin offers short-term control of rheumatoid arthritis when used as second-line treatment, but is associated with nephrotoxicity.We don′t know whether cyclophosphamide is as effective as other DMARDs for second-line treatment.Cytokine inhibitors may offer an alternative to traditional DMARDs for second line treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, but more research is needed. Etanercept may be as effective as methotrexate in improving symptoms, function, and radiological evidence of progression, but more evidence for its effect is needed Azathioprine is less effective and is less well tolerated than methotrexate.We don't know whether anakinra or adalimumab are as effective as other DMARDs for second-line treatment.Although widely used for the initial short-term relief of clinical disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis, we don't know how corticosteroids compare with other drugs for first or second-line treatment.
PMCID: PMC2943775  PMID: 19454108
8.  Methotrexate therapy associates with reduced prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in rheumatoid arthritis patients over the age of 60- more than just an anti-inflammatory effect? A cross sectional study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(4):R110.
The metabolic syndrome (MetS) may contribute to the excess cardiovascular burden observed in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The prevalence and associations of the MetS in RA remain uncertain: systemic inflammation and anti-rheumatic therapy may contribute. Methotrexate (MTX) use has recently been linked to a reduced presence of MetS, via an assumed generic anti-inflammatory mechanism. We aimed to: assess the prevalence of the MetS in RA; identify factors that associate with its presence; and assess their interaction with the potential influence of MTX.
MetS prevalence was assessed cross-sectionally in 400 RA patients, using five MetS definitions (National Cholesterol Education Programme 2004 and 2001, International Diabetes Federation, World Health Organisation and European Group for Study of Insulin Resistance). Logistic regression was used to identify independent predictors of the MetS. Further analysis established the nature of the association between MTX and the MetS.
MetS prevalence rates varied from 12.1% to 45.3% in RA according to the definition used. Older age and higher HAQ scores associated with the presence of the MetS. MTX use, but not other disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or glucocorticoids, associated with significantly reduced chance of having the MetS in RA (OR = 0.517, CI 0.33–0.81, P = 0.004).
The prevalence of the MetS in RA varies according to the definition used. MTX therapy, unlike other DMARDs or glucocorticoids, independently associates with a reduced propensity to MetS, suggesting a drug-specific mechanism, and makes MTX a good first-line DMARD in RA patients at high risk of developing the MetS, particularly those aged over 60 years.
PMCID: PMC2745792  PMID: 19607680
9.  Step‐up combination versus switching of non‐biological disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs in rheumatoid arthritis: results from a retrospective observational study 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(8):1059-1065.
In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), treatment with disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) frequently needs to be changed because of insufficient effectiveness.
To compare the clinical outcomes of two potential strategies for patients experiencing DMARD discontinuations related to ineffectiveness: switching to another DMARD or step‐up combination therapy of the present DMARD with a new one.
In a large observational database of 4585 DMARD courses in 1214 patients with RA, all patients who had experienced a change in treatment regimen were identified, and retention, effectiveness and safety of these subsequent treatment courses between the two strategies (switching vs step‐up combination). All analyses were stratified according to the type of the new DMARD into methotrexate (MTX), sulphasalazine (SSZ) or leflunomide (LEF); all other DMARDs were excluded.
Kaplan–Meier analysis for MTX courses showed no significant difference in overall retention rates between the strategies of adding MTX and switching to MTX (p = 0.49 by log rank test). Likewise, switching or adding did not result in significantly different retention rates for SSZ and LEF (p = 0.61 and 0.74, respectively). This similarity between strategies remained after adjusting for several confounding variables. The frequencies of treatment terminations related to ineffectiveness or toxicity were likewise similar between the two strategies for the MTX, SSZ and LEF groups. This was also confirmed by the similarity of erythrocyte sedimentation rates that were reached at the end of the two therapeutic strategies for all three drugs, in adjusted analysis.
Given all limitations of observational studies, the present data indicate that in situations of ineffective DMARD treatments, step‐up combination therapy using traditional DMARDs, such as MTX, SSZ or LEF, bears no clear clinical advantage over switching to the new DMARD. Our results do not implicate any predication about step‐up design including biologicals, where the benefit of combination therapy has been suggested convincingly.
PMCID: PMC1954688  PMID: 17307765
10.  Masitinib in the treatment of active rheumatoid arthritis: results of a multicentre, open-label, dose-ranging, phase 2a study 
Since current treatment options for patients suffering from active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remain inadequate, especially for those unresponsive to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), new and improved medication is needed. This study evaluates the safety and efficacy of masitinib (AB1010), a potent and selective protein tyrosine kinase inhibitor of c-KIT, in the monotherapy treatment of DMARD-refractory RA.
This was a multicentre, uncontrolled, open-label, randomised, dose-ranging, phase 2a trial. Masitinib was administered orally to 43 patients who had inadequate response to DMARDs, at initial randomised dosing levels of 3 and 6 mg/kg per day over a 12-week period. Dose adjustment was permitted based upon tolerability and response criteria. Efficacy was assessed via American College of Rheumatology 20%/50%/70% improvement criteria (ACR20/50/70) responses, disease activity score using 28 joint counts (DAS28), index of improvement in RA (ACRn) and C-reactive protein (CRP) improvement, relative to baseline at week 12.
Improvement was observed in all efficacy endpoints, including ACR20/50/70 scores of 54%, 26% and 8%, respectively, and a reduction in CRP level by greater than 50% for approximately half the population. This improvement was sustainable throughout an extension phase (> 84 weeks) and was also independent of initial DMARD resistance (anti-tumour necrosis factor-alpha and/or methotrexate). A relatively high patient withdrawal rate (37%) required the use of last observation carried forward (LOCF) data imputation. Incidence of adverse events was high (95%), although the majority were of mild or moderate severity with a considerable decline in frequency observed after 12 weeks of treatment. Two nonfatal serious adverse events were reported. Dose-response analyses tentatively indicate that an initial dosing level of 6.0 mg/kg per day administered orally in two daily intakes is the most appropriate, based upon potency and tolerability trends.
Treatment with masitinib improved DMARD-refractory active RA. Following an initial high incidence of mostly mild to moderate side effects during the first 12 weeks of treatment, masitinib appears to be generally well tolerated. This, together with evidence of a sustainable efficacy response, suggests that masitinib is suitable for long-term treatment regimens. Since this was the first study of masitinib in a nononcologic pathology, the relatively high patient withdrawal rate observed can be partly attributed to a highly cautious response to adverse events. There is sufficient compelling evidence to warrant further placebo-controlled investigation.
Trial registration NCT00831922.
PMCID: PMC2714151  PMID: 19549290
11.  Systematic review of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs for juvenile idiopathic arthritis 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:29.
Treatment of juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may improve outcomes compared to conventional therapy (e.g., non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, intra-articular corticosteroids). The purpose of this systematic review was to evaluate the comparative effectiveness and safety of DMARDs versus conventional therapy and versus other DMARDs.
A systematic evidence review of 156 reports identified in MEDLINE®, EMBASE®, and by hand searches. There is some evidence that methotrexate is superior to conventional therapy. Among children who have responded to a biologic DMARD, randomized discontinuation trials suggest that continued treatment decreases the risk of having a flare. However, these studies evaluated DMARDs with different mechanisms of action (abatacept, adalimumab, anakinra, etanercept, intravenous immunoglobulin, tocilizumab) and used varying comparators and follow-up periods. Rates of serious adverse events are similar between DMARDs and placebo in published trials. This review identified 11 incident cases of cancer among several thousand children treated with one or more DMARD.
Few data are available to evaluate the comparative effectiveness of either specific DMARDs or general classes of DMARDs. However, based on the overall number, quality, and consistency of studies, there is moderate strength of evidence to support that DMARDs improve JIA-associated symptoms. Limited data suggest that short-term risk of cancer is low.
PMCID: PMC3340294  PMID: 22420649
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs; Comparative effectiveness research; Systematic review
12.  Chronic Ingestion of Flavan-3-ols and Isoflavones Improves Insulin Sensitivity and Lipoprotein Status and Attenuates Estimated 10-Year CVD Risk in Medicated Postmenopausal Women With Type 2 Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(2):226-232.
To assess the effect of dietary flavonoids on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes on established statin and hypoglycemic therapy.
Despite being medicated, patients with type 2 diabetes have elevated CVD risk, particularly postmenopausal women. Although dietary flavonoids have been shown to reduce CVD risk factors in healthy participants, no long-term trials have examined the additional benefits of flavonoids to CVD risk in medicated postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. We conducted a parallel-design, placebo-controlled trial with type 2 diabetic patients randomized to consume 27 g/day (split dose) flavonoid-enriched chocolate (containing 850 mg flavan-3-ols [90 mg epicatechin] and 100 mg isoflavones [aglycone equivalents)]/day) or matched placebo for 1 year.
Ninety-three patients completed the trial, and adherence was high (flavonoid 91.3%; placebo 91.6%). Compared with the placebo group, the combined flavonoid intervention resulted in a significant reduction in estimated peripheral insulin resistance (homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance [HOMA-IR] −0.3 ± 0.2; P = 0.004) and improvement in insulin sensitivity (quantitative insulin sensitivity index [QUICKI] 0.003 ± 0.00; P = 0.04) as a result of a significant decrease in insulin levels (−0.8 ± 0.5 mU/L; P = 0.02). Significant reductions in total cholesterol:HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) ratio (−0.2 ± 0.1; P = 0.01) and LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) (−0.1 ± 0.1 mmol/L; P = 0.04) were also observed. Estimated 10-year total coronary heart disease risk (derived from UK Prospective Diabetes Study algorithm) was attenuated after flavonoid intervention (flavonoid +0.1 ± 0.3 vs. placebo 1.1 ± 0.3; P = 0.02). No effect on blood pressure, HbA1c, or glucose was observed.
One-year intervention with flavan-3-ols and isoflavones improved biomarkers of CVD risk, highlighting the additional benefit of flavonoids to standard drug therapy in managing CVD risk in postmenopausal type 2 diabetic patients.
PMCID: PMC3263874  PMID: 22250063
13.  Trajectory of intensive treat-to-target disease modifying drug regimen in an observational study of an early rheumatoid arthritis cohort 
BMJ Open  2013;3(7):e003083.
Studies of early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) cohorts have analysed treatment response and prognostic factors at fixed time points. However, in treat-to-target protocols, therapeutic decision-making is dynamic and responsive to disease activity over time. To determine when a minimal residual disease response target should be expected, our primary objective was to identify the time-dependent therapeutic response to combination disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for 12 months. Our secondary objective determined factors affecting this response trajectory.
Observational cohort.
Treat-to-target early RA clinic in Australian tertiary referral hospital.
We enrolled consecutive patients attending an early arthritis clinic with symptom duration less than 12 months, who were diagnosed with RA for the first time between 2004 and 2008. 101 met these eligibility criteria and data were available at baseline through 12 months.
intensive DMARDs according to a treat-to-target protocol.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
We measured disease activity scores (DAS) at each visit, then analysed therapeutic response and associated factors in a time-dependent fashion over 12 months.
The median DAS4vESR of 4.46 at baseline decreased 12 weeks later by 24%, while the proportion with DAS4v ≤ 2.6 increased (p<0.01). DAS4v continued to decrease over 52 weeks. DAS4v reduction of at least −0.45 at 4 weeks was predictive of DAS4v at 28 and 52 weeks. Female gender, current smoking, primary education and an interaction between baseline weight and C reactive protein (CRP) negatively impacted DAS4v reduction over 4 and 52 weeks. Time-varying effects of blood pressure, neutrophils, erythrocyte sedimentation rate and CRP also significantly influenced DAS4v over 52 weeks.
Time-dependent data suggest that the largest reduction of DAS4v to combination DMARDs occurs in the first month of therapy, and this predicts subsequent response. Variables known to impact long-term treatment response in RA also impacted early DAS4v response to combination DMARDs.
PMCID: PMC3731780  PMID: 23903812
14.  Current concepts in the management of rheumatoid arthritis 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation and joint destruction that causes significant morbidity and mortality. However, the combined use of methotrexate, a synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD), and biologic DMARD has revolutionized treatment of RA. Clinical remission is now realistic targets, achieved by a large proportion of RA patients, and rapid and appropriate induction of remission by intensive treatment with biological DMARD and methotrexate is prerequisite to halt joint damage and functional disabilities. However, biological DMARD is limited to intravenous or subcutaneous uses and orally available small but strong molecules have been developed. Oral administration of tofacitinib targeting the Janus kinase (JAK) is significantly effective than placebo in active patients with methotrexatenaïve, inadequately responsive to methotrexate or tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-inhibitors. The efficacy was rapid and as strong as adalimumab, a TNF-inhibitor. Meanwhile, association of tofacitinib on carcinogenicity and malignancy is under debate and further investigation on post-marketing survey would be warranted. On the other hand, discontinuation of a biological DMARD without disease flare is our next goal and desirable from the standpoint of risk reduction and cost effectiveness, especially for patients with clinical remission. Recent reports indicate that more than half of early RA patients could discontinue TNF-targeted biological DMARD without clinical flare and functional impairment after obtaining clinical remission. Contrarily, for established RA, fewer patients sustained remission after the discontinuation of biological DMARD and “deep remission” at the discontinuation was a key factor to keep the treatment holiday of biological DMARD.
PMCID: PMC4773729  PMID: 26932398
Arthritis, rheumatoid; Antirheumatic agents; Biological antirheumatic agents; Remission; Janus kinase inhibitor
15.  Longer durations of antitumour necrosis factor treatment are associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular events in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
RMD Open  2015;1(1):e000080.
To assess the effects of treatment with antitumour necrosis factor (TNF) agents, methotrexate, or other non-biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) on cardiovascular event risks among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
We conducted a retrospective study using data from the MarketScan claims database. Patients with RA with ≥1 prescription for an index drug were included. Each patient's use of an index drug was calculated cumulatively as a time-varying exposure. The incidence of cardiovascular events among patients with RA was determined. Associations between drug exposures and occurrence of cardiovascular events were assessed with Cox proportional hazards models.
Of 113 677 patients identified, 35.8%, 41.1% and 23.1% received anti-TNF agents, methotrexate and other DMARDs, respectively. Patients were treated for an average of 7.6 months; 2138 patients (1.9%) had a cardiovascular event following their index prescription. Each additional 6 months of anti-TNF therapy use versus non-use reduced the risk (HR; 95% CI) for any cardiovascular event by 12% (0.88; 0.81 to 0.95, p=0.002). Anti-TNF therapy was associated with a 13% and 12% reduction in cardiovascular events in patients aged ≥50 years (0.87; 0.80 to 0.95, p=0.002) and in those without prior methotrexate use (0.88; 0.78 to 0.99, p=0.04), respectively. Cumulative use of 1, 2 or 3 years of anti-TNF therapy versus non-use is expected to reduce cardiovascular event risks by 21%, 38% and 51%, respectively.
Anti-TNF therapy was associated with a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular events among patients with RA, older patients with RA and patients without prior exposure to methotrexate.
PMCID: PMC4612693  PMID: 26535138
Anti-TNF; Cardiovascular Disease; Rheumatoid Arthritis
16.  Circulating miRNAs as potential biomarkers of therapy effectiveness in rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with anti-TNFα 
The advent of anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha (anti-TNFα) drugs has considerably improved medical management in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, although it has been reported to be ineffective in a fraction of them. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNAs that act as fine-tuning regulators of gene expression. Targeting miRNAs by gain or loss of function approaches have brought therapeutic effects in various disease models. The aim of this study was to investigate serum miRNA levels as predictive biomarkers of response to anti-TNFα therapy in RA patients.
In total, 95 RA patients undergoing anti-TNFα/disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (anti-TNFα/DMARDs) combined treatments were enrolled. Serum samples were obtained at 0 and 6 months and therapeutic efficacy was assessed. miRNAs were isolated from the serum of 10 patients before and after anti-TNFα/DMARDs combination therapy, cDNA transcribed and pooled, and human serum miRNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) arrays were performed. Subsequently, selected miRNAs were analyzed in a validation cohort consisting of 85 RA patients. Correlation studies with clinical and serological variables were also performed.
Ninety percent of RA patients responded to anti-TNFα/DMARDs combination therapy according to European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) criteria. Array analysis showed that 91% of miRNAS were overexpressed and 9% downregulated after therapy. Functional classification revealed a preponderance of target mRNAs involved in reduction of cells maturation - especially on chondrocytes - as well as in immune and inflammatory response, cardiovascular disease, connective tissue and musculoskeletal system. Six out of ten miRNAs selected for validation were found significantly upregulated by anti-TNFα/DMARDs combination therapy (miR-16-5p, miR-23-3p, miR125b-5p, miR-126-3p, miRN-146a-5p, miR-223-3p). Only responder patients showed an increase in those miRNAs after therapy, and paralleled the reduction of TNFα, interleukin (IL)-6, IL-17, rheumatoid factor (RF), and C-reactive protein (CRP). Correlation studies demonstrated associations between validated miRNAs and clinical and inflammatory parameters. Further, we identified a specific plasma miRNA signature (miR-23 and miR-223) that may serve both as predictor and biomarker of response to anti-TNFα/DMARDs combination therapy.
miRNA levels in the serum of RA patients before and after anti-TNFα/DMARDs combination therapy are potential novel biomarkers for predicting and monitoring therapy outcome.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0555-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4377058  PMID: 25860297
17.  EULAR recommendations for the management of rheumatoid arthritis with synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs: 2013 update 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;73(3):492-509.
In this article, the 2010 European League against Rheumatism (EULAR) recommendations for the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (sDMARDs and bDMARDs, respectively) have been updated. The 2013 update has been developed by an international task force, which based its decisions mostly on evidence from three systematic literature reviews (one each on sDMARDs, including glucocorticoids, bDMARDs and safety aspects of DMARD therapy); treatment strategies were also covered by the searches. The evidence presented was discussed and summarised by the experts in the course of a consensus finding and voting process. Levels of evidence and grades of recommendations were derived and levels of agreement (strengths of recommendations) were determined. Fourteen recommendations were developed (instead of 15 in 2010). Some of the 2010 recommendations were deleted, and others were amended or split. The recommendations cover general aspects, such as attainment of remission or low disease activity using a treat-to-target approach, and the need for shared decision-making between rheumatologists and patients. The more specific items relate to starting DMARD therapy using a conventional sDMARD (csDMARD) strategy in combination with glucocorticoids, followed by the addition of a bDMARD or another csDMARD strategy (after stratification by presence or absence of adverse risk factors) if the treatment target is not reached within 6 months (or improvement not seen at 3 months). Tumour necrosis factor inhibitors (adalimumab, certolizumab pegol, etanercept, golimumab, infliximab, biosimilars), abatacept, tocilizumab and, under certain circumstances, rituximab are essentially considered to have similar efficacy and safety. If the first bDMARD strategy fails, any other bDMARD may be used. The recommendations also address tofacitinib as a targeted sDMARD (tsDMARD), which is recommended, where licensed, after use of at least one bDMARD. Biosimilars are also addressed. These recommendations are intended to inform rheumatologists, patients, national rheumatology societies and other stakeholders about EULAR's most recent consensus on the management of RA with sDMARDs, glucocorticoids and bDMARDs. They are based on evidence and expert opinion and intended to improve outcome in patients with RA.
PMCID: PMC3933074  PMID: 24161836
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (synthetic); DMARDs (biologic); Treatment; Early Rheumatoid Arthritis
18.  Clinical efficacy of infliximab plus methotrexate in DMARD naive and DMARD refractory rheumatoid arthritis is associated with decreased synovial expression of TNFα and IL18 but not CXCL12 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2005;64(4):537-543.
Background: Tumour necrosis α (TNFα) blocking agents lead to pronounced clinical effects and reduced synovial infiltrate in rheumatoid arthritis. Laboratory and clinical studies suggest that TNFα independent pathways play a role in the disease.
Objectives: To evaluate the immunopathological effects of combination therapy on rheumatoid synovial tissue in order to identify TNFα independent mechanisms.
Methods: 12 rheumatoid patients, including four DMARD (disease modifying antirheumatic drug) naive patients with early disease, were studied for the effect of combination therapy with infliximab and methotrexate on the synovial infiltrate. Biopsies and clinical assessments (DAS28) were carried out before the first and after the third infusion of infliximab. Synovial inflammation was scored semiquantitatively. Co-expression of CD38+ cells was studied by an immunofluorescent double labelling technique.
Results: Marked clinical responses were associated with a global reduction in the synovial infiltrate and expression of cytokines, notably interleukin 18 and TNFα, but low grade disease activity persisted. There was no effect on the expression of CXC chemokine ligand (CXCL12), and germinal centre-like structures were still detectable in synovial tissue in two patients after treatment. CD38+ activated T cells were more resistant to treatment than CD38+ plasma cells. No differences in clinical response or effects on synovial infiltrate were observed between DMARD refractory and DMARD naive patients.
Conclusions: Persistent expression of CXCL12 and incomplete resolution of lymphocytic infiltrates after infliximab plus methotrexate indicates that TNFα independent mechanisms are operative in rheumatoid arthritis. This may contribute to low grade disease activity, even in DMARD naive patients with early disease.
PMCID: PMC1755439  PMID: 15769913
19.  Effect of Combination Therapy on Joint Destruction in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Network Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e106408.
Despite significant cost differences, the comparative effect of combination treatments of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) with and without biologic agents has rarely been examined. Thus we performed a network meta-analysis on the effect of combination therapies on progression of radiographic joint erosions in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods and Findings
The following combination drug therapies compared versus single DMARD were investigated: Double DMARD: 2 DMARDs (methotrexate, sulfasalazine, leflunomide, injectable gold, cyclosporine, chloroquine, azathioprin, penicillamin) or 1 DMARD plus low dose glucocorticoid (LDGC); triple DMARD: 3 DMARDs or 2 DMARDs plus LDGC; biologic combination: 1 DMARD plus biologic agent (tumor necrosis factor α inhibitor (TNFi) or abatacept or tocilizumab or CD20 inhibitor (CD20i)). Randomized controlled trials were identified in a search of electronic archives of biomedical literature and included in a star-shaped network meta-analysis and reported according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement protocol. Effects are reported as standardized mean differences (SMD). The effects of data from 39 trials published in the period 1989–2012 were as follows: Double DMARD: −0.32 SMD (CI: −0.42, −0.22); triple DMARD: −0.46 SMD (CI: −0.60, −0.31); 1 DMARD plus TNFi: −0.30 SMD (CI: −0.36, −0.25); 1 DMARD plus abatacept: −0.20 SMD (CI: −0.33, −0.07); 1 DMARD plus tocilizumab: −0.34 SMD (CI: −0.48, −0.20); 1 DMARD plus CD20i: −0.32 SMD (CI: −0.40, −0.24). The indirect comparisons showed similar effects between combination treatments apart from triple DMARD being significantly better than abatacept plus methotrexate (−0.26 SMD (CI: −0.45, −0.07)) and TNFi plus methotrexate (−0.16 SMD (CI: −0.31, −0.01)).
Combination treatment of a biologic agent with 1 DMARD is not superior to 2–3 DMARDs including or excluding LDGC in preventing structural joint damage. Future randomized studies of biologic agents should be compared versus a combination of DMARDs.
PMCID: PMC4171366  PMID: 25244021
20.  Impact of concomitant DMARD therapy on adherence to treatment with etanercept and infliximab in rheumatoid arthritis. Results from a six-year observational study in southern Sweden 
The objective of this work is to compare the adherence to therapy of patients receiving etanercept and infliximab during first tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-blocking treatment course in rheumatoid arthritis. Special emphasis is placed on potential predictors for treatment termination and the impact of concomitant methotrexate (MTX) or other disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Patients (n = 1,161) with active rheumatoid arthritis, not responding to at least two DMARDs including MTX starting etanercept or infliximab therapy for the first time, were included in a structured clinical follow-up protocol. Information on diagnosis, disease duration, previous and ongoing DMARDs, treatment start and termination, as well as cause of withdrawal was prospectively collected during the period of March 1999 through December 2004. Patients were divided into six groups according to TNF-blocking drugs and concomitant DMARDs. Five-year level (one-year) of adherence to therapy was 36% (69%) for patients receiving infliximab in combination with MTX compared with 65% (89%) for patients treated with etanercept and MTX (p < 0.001). Cox regression models showed that the risk for premature treatment termination of patients treated with infliximab was threefold higher than for etanercept (p < 0.001). Also, the regression analysis showed that patients receiving concomitant MTX had better treatment continuation than patients treated solely with TNF blockers (p < 0.001). Moreover, patients receiving concomitant MTX had superior drug survival than patients receiving other concomitant DMARDs (p < 0.010). The superior effect of MTX was associated primarily with fewer treatment terminations because of adverse events. In addition, the study identifies low C-reactive protein level, high age, elevated health assessment questionnaire score, and higher previous number of DMARDs as predictors of premature treatment termination. In summary, treatment with etanercept has higher adherence to therapy than treatment with infliximab. Concomitant MTX is associated with improved treatment continuation of biologics when compared with both TNF blockers as monotherapy and TNF blockers combined with other DMARDs.
PMCID: PMC1794519  PMID: 17121678
21.  Mortality in Pharmacologically Treated Older Adults with Diabetes: The Cardiovascular Health Study, 1989–2001 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e400.
Diabetes mellitus (DM) confers an increased risk of mortality in young and middle-aged individuals and in women. It is uncertain, however, whether excess DM mortality continues beyond age 75 years, is related to type of hypoglycemic therapy, and whether women continue to be disproportionately affected by DM into older age.
Methods and Findings
From the Cardiovascular Health Study, a prospective study of 5,888 adults, we examined 5,372 participants aged 65 y or above without DM (91.2%), 322 with DM treated with oral hypoglycemic agents (OHGAs) (5.5%), and 194 with DM treated with insulin (3.3%). Participants were followed (1989–2001) for total, cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD), and non-CVD/noncancer mortality. Compared with non-DM participants, those treated with OHGAs or insulin had adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for total mortality of 1.33 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10 to 1.62) and 2.04 (95% CI, 1.62 to 2.57); CVD mortality, 1.99 (95% CI, 1.54 to 2.57) and 2.16 (95% CI, 1.54 to 3.03); CHD mortality, 2.47 (95% CI, 1.89 to 3.24) and 2.75 (95% CI, 1.95 to 3.87); and infectious and renal mortality, 1.35 (95% CI, 0.70 to 2.59) and 6.55 (95% CI, 4.18 to 10.26), respectively. The interaction of age (65–74 y versus ≥75 y) with DM was not significant. Women treated with OHGAs had a similar HR for total mortality to men, but a higher HR when treated with insulin.
DM mortality risk remains high among older adults in the current era of medical care. Mortality risk and type of mortality differ between OHGA and insulin treatment. Women treated with insulin therapy have an especially high mortality risk. Given the high absolute CVD mortality in older people, those with DM warrant aggressive CVD risk factor reduction.
The negative impact on mortality of diabetes persists into old age. Elderly people with diabetes might be twice as likely to die from CVD as people without diabetes. More aggressive treatment of CVD risk factors in older patients should be considered.
Editors' Summary
Diabetes is a growing global health problem. By 2030, 300 million people worldwide may have this chronic, incurable disorder, double the current number. People with diabetes have dangerously high amounts of sugar in their blood. Blood-sugar levels are normally controlled by insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas that tells cells to absorb sugar from the blood. This control fails in people with diabetes, either because they make no insulin (type 1 diabetes) or because their cells are insensitive to insulin (type 2 diabetes). Type 1 diabetes is controlled with insulin injections; type 2 diabetes is controlled with diet, exercise, and pills that reduce blood-sugar levels. Long-term complications of diabetes include kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage. Individuals with diabetes also have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD)—heart problems, strokes, and poor circulation—because of damage to their blood vessels.
Why Was This Study Done?
Epidemiological studies (investigations of disease patterns, causes, and control in populations) have indicated that diabetes increases the risk of death (mortality) from CVD in young and middle-aged people, but it is not known whether this is also true for old people. It is also not known what effect long-term treatment for diabetes has on mortality or whether the risk of death from CVD is decreasing in diabetic people as it is in the general US population. This information would help physicians provide health care and lifestyle advice to people with diabetes. In this study, the researchers have investigated mortality patterns in elderly diabetic people by looking at data collected between 1989 and 2001 by the US Cardiovascular Health Study, an observational study of nearly 6,000 people aged over 65 years (in this type of study participants are observed without imposing any specific changes to their lifestyle, behavior, medical care, or treatments).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Participants were screened at the start of the Cardiovascular Health Study for CVD and diabetes (defined as drug-treated disease), for established CVD risk factors such as high blood pressure and smoking, for recently recognized CVD risk factors (for example, subclinical CVD), and for psychosocial factors associated with diabetes that might influence mortality, such as frailty and depression. At this time, about 5% of the participants were taking oral hypoglycemic agents for diabetes and about 3% were taking insulin. During the 11-year study, 40% of the participants died. After adjusting for CVD risk factors and psychosocial factors, the researchers calculated that people treated with oral hypoglycemic agents were 1.3 times as likely to die from all causes and people treated with insulin were twice as likely to die as people without diabetes. The risk of death from CVD was about twice as high in both groups of diabetic participants as in non-diabetic participants; the risk of death from coronary heart disease was increased about 2.5-fold. These adjusted relative risks are very similar to those found in previous studies. The researchers also report that participants treated with insulin were six times more likely to die from infectious diseases or renal failure than nondiabetic participants, and women treated with insulin had a particularly high mortality risk.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the negative impact on mortality of diabetes persists into old age and that death from CVD is currently declining in both older diabetic people and nondiabetic people. In addition, they show that diabetic people treated with insulin are at a greater risk of dying relative to people without diabetes and those taking oral hypoglycemic agents. This might reflect the type of diabetes that these people had, but this was not investigated. How long participants had had diabetes was also not considered, nor how many people developed diabetes during the study. These and other limitations might mean that the reported excess mortality due to diabetes is an underestimate. Nevertheless, the estimate that elderly people with diabetes are twice as likely to die from CVD as people without diabetes is important. Many elderly people die anyway because of CVD, so this increased risk represents many more deaths than the similar increased risk in younger diabetic populations. Yet, elderly people often receive less-intensive management of CVD risk factors than younger people. The results of this study suggest that rectifying this situation could prolong the lives of many elderly people with diabetes.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on diabetes, heart disease, stroke and poor circulation
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides patient information on diabetes
Information for patients on prevention, diagnosis, and management of diabetes is available from the America Diabetes Association
Patient information is available from the American Heart Association on all aspects of heart disease, including its association with diabetes
Wikipedia pages on diabetes and cardiovascular disease (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
Further information is available about the Cardiovascular Health Study
PMCID: PMC1609124  PMID: 17048978
22.  Blood lipid profiles and peripheral blood mononuclear cell cholesterol metabolism gene expression in patients with and without methotrexate treatment 
BMC Medicine  2011;9:4.
Methotrexate (MTX) is the most commonly prescribed disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) in rheumatoid arthritis. ATP-binding cassette transporter-A1 (ABCA1) and 27-Hydroxylase (HY27) are known antiatherogenic proteins that promote cellular cholesterol efflux. In THP-1 macrophages, MTX can promote the reversal of cholesterol transport, limit foam cell formation and also reverse COX-2 inhibitor-mediated downregulation of ABCA1. Despite its antiatherogenic potential in vitro, the impact of clinical use of low-dose MTX on cholesterol metabolism in humans is unknown. Objective of the study was to examine whether clinical MTX use is associated with altered blood lipids and/or ABCA1/HY27 expressions.
In all, 100 rheumatoid arthritis subjects were recruited from a medical center in central Taiwan. Plasma lipid profiles and peripheral blood mononuclear cell HY27 and ABCA1 expressions were compared between subjects taking MTX (MTX+) and other disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) (MTX-). Dietary intake was assessed by a registered dietician.
Though no difference observed in the blood lipids between MTX+ and MTX- subjects, the expressions of ABCA1 and HY27 were significantly elevated in MTX+ subjects (n = 67) compared to MTX- subjects (n = 32, p < 0.05). ABCA expression correlated with MTX doses (r = 0.205, p = 0.042), and MTX+ subjects are more likely to have increased HY27 compared to MTX- subjects (OR = 2.5, p = 0.038). Prevalence of dyslipidemia and overweight, and dietary fat/cholesterol intake were lower than that of the age-matched population. Although no differences were observed in the blood lipids, the potential impacts of MTX on cholesterol metabolism should not be overlooked and the atheroprotective effects from MTX induced HY27 and ABCA1 expressions may still be present in those persons with pre-existing dyslipidemia.
We demonstrated novel findings on the increased gene expressions of atheroprotective protein HY27 and ABCA1 in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with clinical use of low-dose MTX. Whether MTX induced HY27 and ABCA1 expressions can protect against cardiovascular disease in patients with chronic inflammation through the facilitation of cholesterol export remains to be established. Further studies on the impacts of low-dose MTX on hypercholesterolemic patients are underway.
PMCID: PMC3033360  PMID: 21232092
23.  The effect of etanercept on anti‐cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies and rheumatoid factor in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
To evaluate the changes in anti‐cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies (anti‐CCP) and rheumatoid factor (RF) following etanercept treatment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
The study included 90 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who failed treatment with disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). All patients were allowed to continue treatment with DMARDs; 52 of them received etanercept as a twice weekly 25 mg subcutaneous injection for three months, and the others did not. Serum samples were collected at baseline and one month intervals during the treatment course. The serum levels of anti‐CCP and RF were tested by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay and nephelometry, respectively.
At baseline, 45 of the 52 etanercept treated patients (86.5%) and 32 of the 38 controls (84.2%) were positive for anti‐CCP. Tests for RF were positive in 78.9% and 84.2% of patients with or without etanercept treatment, respectively. The serum levels of anti‐CCP and RF decreased significantly after a three month etanercept treatment (p = 0.007 and p = 0.006, respectively). The average decrease from baseline calculated for each individual patient in the etanercept treated group was 31.3% for anti‐CCP and 36% for RF. The variation in anti‐CCP was positively correlated with the variation in disease activity, swollen and tender joint counts, RF, and C reactive protein.
Etanercept combined with DMARDs leads to a much greater decrease than DMARDs alone in the serum levels of anti‐CCP and RF in rheumatoid arthritis, compatible with a reduction in clinical disease activity.
PMCID: PMC1797988  PMID: 15975966
etanercept; cyclic citrullinated peptide; rheumatoid factor; rheumatoid arthritis
24.  Non-adherence to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs is associated with higher disease activity in early arthritis patients in the first year of the disease 
Non-adherence to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) hampers the targets of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment, obtaining low disease activity and decreasing radiological progression. This study investigates if, and to what extent, non-adherence to treatment would lead to a higher 28-joint count disease activity score (DAS28) in the first year after diagnosis.
Adult patients from an ongoing cohort study on treatment adherence were selected if they fulfilled the EULAR/ACR2010 criteria for RA, and were to start with their first DMARDs. Clinical variables were assessed at baseline and every 3 months. Non-adherence was continuously electronically measured and was defined as the proportion of days with a negative difference between expected and observed openings of the medication container out of the 3-month period before DAS28 measurement. Generalized linear mixed models were used to investigate whether the DAS28 related to non-adherence. Covariates included were age, sex, baseline DAS28, rheumatoid factor positivity, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies (ACPA) positivity, anxiety, depression, weeks of treatment, number of DMARDs used, education level, use of subcutaneous methotrexate and biological use.
One hundred and twenty patients met the inclusion criteria for RA. During the study period 17 patients became lost to follow-up. There was a decline in adherence over time for all DMARDs except for prednisone. Non-adherence is a predictor of disease activity in the first 6 months of therapy, adjusted for weeks of treatment, baseline DAS28, and baseline anxiety.
Non-adherence relates to disease activity. Therefore, interventions towards enhancing adherence can improve disease outcome.
PMCID: PMC4599322  PMID: 26449852
25.  Efficacy and toxicity of methotrexate (MTX) monotherapy versus MTX combination therapy with non-biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2008;68(7):1105-1112.
To evaluate the efficacy and toxicity of methotrexate (MTX) monotherapy compared with MTX combination with non-biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in adults with rheumatoid arthritis.
A systematic review of randomised trials comparing MTX alone and in combination with other non-biological DMARDs was carried out. Trials were identified in Medline, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library and ACR/EULAR meeting abstracts. Primary outcomes were withdrawals for adverse events or lack of efficacy.
A total of 19 trials (2025 patients) from 6938 citations were grouped by the type of patients randomised. Trials in DMARD naive patients showed no significant advantage of the MTX combination versus monotherapy; withdrawals for lack of efficacy or toxicity were similar in both groups (relative risk (RR) = 1.16; 95% CI 0.70 to 1.93). Trials in MTX or non-MTX DMARD inadequate responder patients also showed no difference in withdrawal rates between the MTX combo versus mono groups (RR = 0.86; 95% CI 0.49 to 1.51 and RR = 0.75; 95% CI 0.41 to 1.35), but in one study the specific combination of MTX with sulfasalazine and hydroxychloroquine showed a better efficacy/toxicity ratio than MTX alone with RR = 0.3 (95% CI 0.14 to 0.65). Adding leflunomide to MTX non-responders improved efficacy but increased the risk of gastrointestinal side effects and liver toxicity. Withdrawals for toxicity were most significant with ciclosporin and azathioprine combinations.
In DMARD naive patients the balance of efficacy/toxicity favours MTX monotherapy. In DMARD inadequate responders the evidence is inconclusive. Trials are needed that compare currently used MTX doses and combination therapies.
PMCID: PMC2689526  PMID: 19054823

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