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1.  Management and evaluation of extra-articular manifestations in spondyloarthritis 
Spondyloarthritis (SpA) is a chronic inflammatory disease with either predominantly axial symptoms of the spine and sacroiliac joints (axial SpA, including ankylosing spondylitis) or predominantly arthritis (peripheral SpA). Next to these spinal and articular symptoms, many patients with SpA also have extra-articular manifestations (EAMs). EAMs associated with SpA include anterior uveitis (25–30%), psoriasis (10–25%) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (5–10%) and cardiovascular manifestations. Peripheral arthritis occurs in approximately 30% of patients, especially in large joints, and shows an asymmetrical, oligoarticular pattern. Other common joint complaints are due to enthesitis, which manifest as extra-articular bony tenderness in areas such as the Achilles tendon. Acute anterior uveitis presents with acute pain, loss of vision and redness in one eye that usually subsides spontaneously after several weeks. Rapid treatment by an ophthalmologist is required to prevent synechiae formation which could ultimately result in glaucoma and blindness. Although less common, organ involvement in SpA can also be located in the heart, lungs or kidneys. The risk of cardiovascular events is increased in SpA. Cardiac manifestations can involve the aortic valve (1–10%) or the atrioventricular node and the risk of atherosclerotic events is increased in this group. Treatment of SpA includes physical exercise and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and in case of peripheral arthritis, sulphasalazine can be added. When there is insufficient response to NSAIDs, tumor necrosis factor blockers, especially infliximab, etanercept, adalimumab and golimumab, are very effective in treating axial manifestations, arthritis, enthesitis and psoriasis. Anterior uveitis in SpA can be treated adequately by the ophthalmologist and in the case of refractory uveitis, treatment with adalimumab and infliximab seems to be more effective compared with etanercept. When IBD occurs with SpA, the use of NSAIDs should be minimized, except for celecoxib, and infliximab or adalimumab are preferred to etanercept. The incidence of atherosclerotic events or SpA-specific cardiac manifestations may be decreased by cardiovascular risk management or effective antirheumatic treatment. Overall it is important to realize that extra-articular manifestations frequently occur in patients with SpA and should be taken into account in the choice of treatment.
PMCID: PMC3512172  PMID: 23227118
Ankylosing spondylitis; anterior uveitis; arthritis; cardiac manifestations; enthesitis; IBD; psoriasis; spondyloarthritis
2.  Neurological adverse events in patients receiving anti-TNF therapy: a prospective imaging and electrophysiological study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2014;16(3):R125.
The aim was to investigate the frequency of neurological adverse events in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and spondylarthropathies (SpA) treated with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) α antagonists.
Seventy-seven patients eligible for anti-TNFα therapy were evaluated. There were 36 patients with RA, 41 with SpA [24 psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and 17 with ankylosing spondylitis (AS)]. All patients had a complete physical and neurological examination. Brain and cervical spine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neurophysiological tests were performed in all patients before the initiation of anti-TNFα therapy and after a mean of 18 months or when clinical symptoms and signs indicated a neurological disease. Exclusion criteria included hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, heart arrhythmias, atherothrombotic events, vitamin B12 and iron deficiency, head and neck trauma and neurological surgeries.
Two patients did not receive anti-TNFα therapy because brain MRIs at baseline revealed lesions compatible with demyelinating diseases. Thus, 75 patients received anti-TNFα (38 infliximab, 19 adalimumab and 18 etanercept). Three patients developed neurological adverse events. A 35-year-old man with PsA after 8 months of infliximab therapy presented with paresis of the left facial nerve and brain MRI showed demyelinating lesions. Infliximab was discontinued and he was treated with pulses of corticosteroids recovering completely after two months. The second patient was a 45-year-old woman with RA who after 6 months of adalimumab therapy presented with optic neuritis. The third patient was a 50-year-old woman with AS, whom after 25 months of infliximab therapy, presented with tingling and numbness of the lower extremities and neurophysiological tests revealed peripheral neuropathy. In both patients anti-TNF were discontinued and they improved without treatment after 2 months. The rest of our patients showed no symptoms and MRIs showed no abnormalities. The estimated rate of neurological adverse events in patients treated with anti-TNF therapy is 4% (3/75).
Neurological adverse events after anti-TNFα therapy were observed in our patient. Brain MRI and neurophysiological tests are essential tools to discriminate neurological diseases.
PMCID: PMC4229940  PMID: 24938855
3.  The immunogenicity to the first anti-TNF therapy determines the outcome of switching to a second anti-TNF therapy in spondyloarthritis patients 
Anti-TNF drugs have proven to be effective against spondyloarthritis (SpA), although 30% of patients fail to respond or experience adverse events leading to treatment discontinuation. In rheumatoid arthritis, the presence of anti-drug antibodies (ADA) against the first TNF inhibitor influences the outcome after switching. Our aim was to assess whether the response to a second anti-TNF drug is related to the previous development of ADA to the first anti-TNF drug SpA patients.
Forty-two SpA patients began a second anti-TNF drug after failing to respond to the first anti-TNF therapy. Clinical activity was assessed by the Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Score (ASDAS) at baseline (at the beginning of the first and second anti-TNF therapy) and at 6 months after switching. The drug and ADA levels were measured by ELISA before each administration.
All patients were treated with anti-TNF drugs and mainly due to inefficacy were switched to a second anti-TNF drug. Eleven of 42 (26.2%) developed ADA during the first biologic treatment. At baseline, no differences in ASDAS were found in patients with or without ADA to the first anti-TNF drug (3.52 ± 1.03 without ADA vs. 3.14 ± 0.95 with ADA, p = 0.399) and to the second anti-TNF drug (3.36 ± 0.94 without ADA vs. 3.09 ± 0.91 with ADA, p = 0.466). At 6 months after switching, patients with previous ADA had lower disease activity (1.62 ± 0.93 with ADA vs. 2.79 ± 1.01 without ADA, p = 0.002) and most patients without ADA had high disease activity state by the ASDAS (25 out of 31 (80.6%) without ADA vs. 3 out of 11 (27.3%) with ADA, p = 0.002).
In SpA the failure to respond to the first anti-TNF drug due to the presence of ADA predicts a better clinical response to a second anti-TNF drug.
PMCID: PMC3978754  PMID: 23890223
4.  Association between the initiation of anti-TNF therapy and the risk of herpes zoster 
Herpes zoster (HZ) reactivation disproportionately affects patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It is unclear whether anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapy elevates HZ risk, and whether monoclonal antibodies carry greater risk than etanercept.
To ascertain whether initiation of anti-TNF therapy compared with non-biologic comparators is associated with increased HZ risk
Design, Setting, and Patients
We identified new users of anti-TNF therapy among cohorts of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and psoriasis-psoriatic arthritis-ankylosing spondylitis (PsO-PsA-AS) patients during 1998–2007 within a large US multi-institutional collaboration combining data from Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly, Tennessee Medicaid, and national Medicaid/Medicare programs. We compared HZ incidence between new anti-TNF users and patients initiating non-biologic disease modifying drugs (DMARDs) within each inflammatory disease cohort (last participant follow-up Dec 31, 2007). Within these cohorts, we used Cox regression models to compare propensity-score adjusted HZ incidence between new anti-TNF and non-biologic DMARD users while controlling for baseline corticosteroid use.
Main Outcome Measure
Incidence of herpes zoster cases occurring after initiation of new anti- TNF or non-biologic DMARD therapy
Among 32,208 new users of anti-TNF therapy, we identified 310 HZ cases. Crude incidence rates among anti-TNF users for RA, IBD, and PsO-PsA-AS were 12.1/1000 pt-yrs, (95% CI 10.7–13.6), 11.3/1000 (95% CI 7.7–16.7), and 4.4/1000 (95% CI 2.8–7.0) respectively. Baseline use of corticosteroids of > 10mg/day was associated with elevated risk [adjusted HR 2.13 (1.64, 2.75) compared with no baseline use. For RA patients, adjusted incidence rates were similar between anti-TNF and nonbiologic DMARD initiators [adjusted HR 1.00 (95% CI 0.77–1.29) and comparable between all three anti-TNF therapies studied.
Conclusions and Relevance
Among patients with RA and other select inflammatory diseases, those who initiated anti-TNF therapies were not at higher risk for HZ compared to patients who initiated non-biologic treatment regimens.
PMCID: PMC3773213  PMID: 23462785
shingles; zoster; herpes; biologic therapy; tumor necrosis factor-alpha; rheumatoid arthritis; adverse events; psoriasis
5.  Effectiveness and safety of adalimumab in patients with ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis and history of anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(3):R117.
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists reduce the signs and symptoms of spondyloarthritides, including ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Our objective was to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of adalimumab, 40 mg every other week, for patients with AS or PsA and prior treatment with infliximab (IFX) and/or etanercept (ETN).
Both trials were 12-week, open-label studies with an optional extension period up to week 20. Patients were stratified by history of anti-TNF treatment, prior anti-TNF therapy received (IFX, ETN, or both), and reason for discontinuation of prior TNF antagonist. ETN was discontinued ≥ 3 weeks, and IFX was discontinued ≥ 2 months before the first adalimumab administration. Effectiveness at week 12 was evaluated by using observed standard-outcome measurements for AS and PsA.
At week 12 of adalimumab treatment, Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index 50 responses were achieved by 40.8% of 326 patients with AS who had received prior anti-TNF therapy and by 63.0% of 924 patients with AS who were naive to TNF antagonist. Observed response rates were generally greater for patients who discontinued the prior anti-TNF therapy because of loss of response or intolerance than for patients who discontinued because of lack of response. Median changes in swollen-joint count and in enthesitis score were similar in patients with and without prior TNF-antagonist treatment. Modified PsA response criteria were fulfilled by 71.2% of 66 patients with PsA, with prior exposure to TNF antagonists, and by 78.8% of 376 patients with no history of anti-TNF therapy. The percentages of patients with PsA attaining a Physician's Global Assessment of psoriasis of "Clear/Almost clear" increased from 33.3% to 61.0% for patients with prior IFX and/or ETN treatment and from 34.6% to 69.7% for patients without anti-TNF therapy. The median change in the Nail Psoriasis Severity Index was -6 for both groups. In both studies, patterns of adverse events were similar for patients with and without prior anti-TNF therapy and were consistent with the known safety profile of adalimumab.
Patients with AS or PsA previously treated with IFX and/or ETN experienced clinically relevant improvements of their diseases after 12 weeks of adalimumab.
Trial registrations NCT00478660 and NCT00235885.
PMCID: PMC2911911  PMID: 20553600
6.  Infection risk in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Spondyloarthropathy patients under treatment with DMARDs, Corticosteroids and TNF-α antagonists 
Infections which complicate rheumatic diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Spondyloarthropathy (SpA) (Psoriatic Arthritis [PA] and Ankylosing Spondylitis [AS]), may cause significant morbidity and mortality. However, among the studies on the incidence rate (IR) of infections in such patients, very few have involved controls and the results have been controversial, probably due to methodological difficulties.
To estimate infection rates in RA and SpA patients under disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), corticosteroids (CS) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α antagonists, alone or combined, a single-centre retrospective observational cohort study has been performed.
Patients and methods
Incidence rates/100 patient-years of any infections were evaluated in RA and SpA outpatients observed in the period November 1, 2003 through December 31, 2009 and stratified according to therapy. Infection incidence rate ratios (IRR) were calculated using Poisson regression models which adjusted for demographic/clinical characteristics of the patients.
Three hundred and thirtyone infections [318 (96.1%) non-serious and 13 (3.9%) serious] have been registered among 176 of the 341 patients (52%). The IR/100 patient-years of all infections was 36.3 ranging from 12.4 (DMARDs + CS) to 62.7 (anti-TNFα + CS). The most frequent infection site was respiratory tract, and bacteria were responsible for three quarters of all infections. In the multivariate analysis, adding anti-TNFα to DMARDs doubled the IRR compared to DMARDs alone, anti-TNFα + CS significantly tripled it, whereas anti-TNFα + CS + DMARDs only increased the risk 2.5 times. The degree of disease activity was strongly and significantly associated with the infection risk (severe or moderate versus mild, IRR = 4). Female sex was significantly associated with increased infection risk, while duration of disease and anti-influenza vaccination were protective, the latter even for cutaneous/soft-tissue (mainly herpetic) infections.
The combination anti-TNFα with CS was found to be the most pro-infective treatment, whereas DMARDs alone were relatively safe. Physicians, therefore, should be aware that there may be an increased risk of infection when using anti-TNFα and CS therapy together. Anti-influenza vaccination appears to provide broad protection, adding evidence to support its use in these patients, and deserves further study.
PMCID: PMC3994399  PMID: 24655394
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Spondyloarthropathy; Infection risk; anti-TNFα; DMARDs; Corticosteroids
7.  Anti-tumour necrosis factor α therapy for ankylosing spondylitis: international experience 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2002;61(Suppl 3):iii51-iii60.
The conventional approach to treatment of patients with spondyloarthritis (SpA), particularly ankylosing spondylitis (AS), has serious limitations, adding a sense of urgency to the evaluation of new treatments for these rheumatic disorders. Tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) is a cytokine that has been shown to mediate inflammatory and regulatory activities in SpA and other immune mediated diseases, including other arthritides and inflammatory bowel disease. Positive results have been reported in several international open label and randomised controlled trials of infliximab and etanercept, the two main biological agents targeting TNFα, which have included approximately 300 patients with SpA. Specifically, TNFα-directed therapy resulted in significant improvements in disease activity, function, and quality of life in these patients, most of whom had AS and received infliximab. Preliminary evidence from open label, long term extension trials suggests clinical benefit with continued use. Serious side effects were rare and consistent with experience from patient groups receiving infliximab or etanercept treatment for inflammatory bowel disease or rheumatoid arthritis. Together, these findings herald an age of more effective treatment of patients with AS with anti-TNFα and other emerging biological agents.
PMCID: PMC1766732  PMID: 12381511
8.  Drug Retention Rates and Treatment Discontinuation among Anti-TNF-α Agents in Psoriatic Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis in Clinical Practice 
Mediators of Inflammation  2014;2014:862969.
Objective. The study aim was to determine treatment persistence rates and to identify causes of discontinuation in psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS) patients in clinical practice. Methods. Patients treated with adalimumab (ADA), etanercept (ETA), or infliximab (INF) were retrospectively included. Treatment persistence rates were analyzed by means of a stepwise logistic regression. Differences between therapy duration were assessed by means of an analysis of variance model (ANOVA), while a chi-square test was used to evaluate relationships between therapies and causes of treatment discontinuation and the administration of concomitant disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) among therapies and types of disease considering completed courses of therapy versus courses that were discontinued. Results. 268 patients received a total of 353 anti-TNF treatment courses (97 ADA, 180 ETA, and 76 INF). Comparison among therapies showed significant difference regarding the treatment persistence rates due to the contrast between ETA and INF (P = 0.0062). We observed that 84.7% of patients were still responding after 6 months of follow-up. Comparison among diseases showed that there were significant differences between PsA and AS (P = 0.0073) and PsA and PsA with predominant axial involvement (P = 0.0467) in terms of duration of the therapy, while there were no significant differences with regard to the persistence rate. Conclusions. In this cohort, anti-TNF-α therapy was associated with high drug persistence rates. As in rheumatoid arthritis, switching to another anti-TNF-α agent can be an effective option when, during the treatment of AS or PsA, therapy is suspended because of inefficacy or an adverse event. Combination therapy with DMARDs was associated with a better persistence rate.
PMCID: PMC4119698  PMID: 25110401
9.  The impact of infliximab treatment on quality of life in patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases 
In this study, we compare the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of patients with moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and study the effect of treatment with infliximab on the HRQoL of patients with these diseases. Short Form Health Survey-36 (SF-36) data from the placebo-controlled phases of 4 studies of infliximab in patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases (n = 1990) were evaluated. Data came from the Anti-TNF Trial in Rheumatoid Arthritis with Concomitant Therapy (ATTRACT) (n = 428), the Safety Trial for Rheumatoid Arthritis with REMICADE Therapy (START) (n = 1083), the Ankylosing Spondylitis Study for the Evaluation of Recombinant Infliximab Therapy (ASSERT) (n = 279), and the Infliximab Multinational Psoriatic Arthritis Clinical Trial II (IMPACT II) (n = 200). SF-36 assessments were made at weeks 0, 10, 30, and 54 in ATTRACT, weeks 0, 6, and 22 in START, weeks 0, 12, and 24 in ASSERT, and weeks 0 and 14 in IMPACT II. All patient populations had significantly impaired physical aspects of HRQoL at baseline relative to the general population of the United States, and the magnitude of impairment was similar across the diseases. Mean baseline physical component summary scores were 29 in the RA cohort, 32 in the PsA cohort, and 29 in the AS cohort. In all 3 diseases, patients who received infliximab showed significant improvement in physical component summary scores compared with those who received placebo. The magnitude of the difference of improvement (effect size, 95%CI) between infliximab and placebo groups was similar in the AS (10.1, 9.2–11.0), PsA (8.6, 7.8–9.4), and RA (10.1, 9.2–11.0) cohorts. Patients with RA and those with PsA treated with infliximab also showed greater improvement in the mental component summary score than those in the placebo group with an effect size of 4.6 (4.2–5.1) in RA and 2.7 (2.4–3.1) in PsA. Patients in large randomized controlled studies of infliximab in RA, PsA, and AS had similar impairment in physical aspects of HRQoL at baseline and showed significantly greater improvement in HRQoL after treatment with infliximab.
PMCID: PMC2212571  PMID: 17922913
10.  Baseline predictors of response and discontinuation of tumor necrosis factor-alpha blocking therapy in ankylosing spondylitis: a prospective longitudinal observational cohort study 
Identifying ankylosing spondylitis (AS) patients who are likely to benefit from tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) blocking therapy is important, especially in view of the costs and potential side effects of these agents. Recently, the AS Disease Activity Score (ASDAS) has been developed to assess both subjective and objective aspects of AS disease activity. However, data about the predictive value of the ASDAS with respect to clinical response to TNF-α blocking therapy are lacking. The aim of the present study was to identify baseline predictors of response and discontinuation of TNF-α blocking therapy in AS patients in daily clinical practice.
AS outpatients who started TNF-α blocking therapy were included in the Groningen Leeuwarden Ankylosing Spondylitis (GLAS) study, an ongoing prospective longitudinal observational cohort study with follow-up visits according to a fixed protocol. For the present analysis, patients were excluded if they had previously received anti-TNF-α treatment. Predictor analyses of response and treatment discontinuation were performed using logistic and Cox regression models, respectively.
Between November 2004 and April 2010, 220 patients started treatment with infliximab (n = 32), etanercept (n = 137), or adalimumab (n = 51). At three and six months, 68% and 63% of patients were Assessments in Ankylosing Spondylitis (ASAS)20 responders, 49% and 46% ASAS40 responders, and 49% and 50% Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI)50 responders, respectively. Baseline predictors of response were younger age, male gender, higher ASDAS score, higher erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) level, higher C-reactive protein (CRP) level, presence of peripheral arthritis, higher patient's global assessment of disease activity, and lower modified Schober test. In August 2010, 64% of patients were still using their TNF-α blocking agent with a median follow-up of 33.1 months (range 2.4 to 68.2). Baseline predictors of discontinuation of TNF-α blocking therapy were female gender, absence of peripheral arthritis, higher BASDAI, lower ESR level, and lower CRP level.
Besides younger age and male gender, objective variables such as higher inflammatory markers or ASDAS score were identified as independent baseline predictors of response and/or continuation of TNF-α blocking therapy. In contrast, higher baseline BASDAI score was independently associated with treatment discontinuation. Based on these results, it seems clinically relevant to include more objective variables in the evaluation of anti-TNF-α treatment.
PMCID: PMC3218909  PMID: 21689401
11.  Long-term safety and efficacy of etanercept in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis 
To date, anti-tumor necrosis factor alfa (anti-TNF-α) therapy is the only alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis. Etanercept is a soluble TNF receptor, with a mode of action and pharmacokinetics different to those of antibodies and distinctive efficacy and safety. Etanercept has demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis, with or without radiographic sacroiliitis, and other manifestations of the disease, including peripheral arthritis, enthesitis, and psoriasis. Etanercept is not efficacious in inflammatory bowel disease, and its efficacy in the treatment of uveitis appears to be lower than that of other anti-TNF drugs. Studies of etanercept confirmed regression of bone edema on magnetic resonance imaging of the spine and sacroiliac joint, but failed to reduce radiographic progression, as do the other anti-TNF drugs. It seems that a proportion of patients remain in disease remission when the etanercept dose is reduced or administration intervals are extended. Etanercept is generally well tolerated with an acceptable safety profile in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis. The most common adverse effect of etanercept treatment is injection site reactions, which are generally self-limiting. Reactivation of tuberculosis, reactivation of hepatitis B virus infection, congestive heart failure, demyelinating neurologic disorders, hematologic disorders like aplastic anemia and pancytopenia, vasculitis, immunogenicity, and exacerbation or induction of psoriasis are class effects of all the anti-TNF drugs, and have been seen in patients with ankylosing spondylitis. However, etanercept is less likely to induce reactivation of tuberculosis than the other anti-TNF drugs and it has been suggested that etanercept might be less immunogenic, especially in ankylosing spondylitis. Acute uveitis, Crohn’s disease, and sarcoidosis are other adverse events that have been rarely associated with etanercept therapy in patients with ankylosing spondylitis.
PMCID: PMC3790868  PMID: 24101863
ankylosing spondylitis; etanercept; spondyloarthritis; efficacy; safety
12.  Emerging role of anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy in rheumatic diseases 
Arthritis Research  2002;4(Suppl 2):S34-S40.
Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) is an inflammatory cytokine that has been implicated in a variety of rheumatic and inflammatory diseases. New understanding of the importance of TNF-α in the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease led to the development of a new class of targeted anti-TNF therapies. Anti-TNF-α agents including etanercept (a fusion protein of the p75 TNF receptor and IgG1) and infliximab (a chimeric monoclonal antibody specific for TNF-α) have been approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, infliximab has been approved in the treatment of patients with active or fistulating Crohn's disease. A new appreciation of the importance of TNF-α in other rheumatic and inflammatory diseases has led to a broadening of the application of anti-TNF agents. Both etanercept and infliximab have been used in open-label and randomized studies in patients with psoriatic arthritis. Although larger randomized trials are needed to confirm early results, both these anti-TNF-α agents, etanercept and infliximab, have demonstrated activity in improving the signs and symptoms of psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis. Infliximab has also been shown to be effective in patients with other rheumatic diseases, including ankylosing spondylitis, and may be effective in adult-onset Still's disease, polymyositis, and Behçet's disease. Further investigations will fully elucidate the role of infliximab in these and other rheumatic diseases.
PMCID: PMC3238220  PMID: 12110156
anti-tumor necrosis factor; cytokine; infliximab; rheumatic disease; tumor necrosis factor
13.  Efficacy and safety of infliximab plus naproxen versus naproxen alone in patients with early, active axial spondyloarthritis: results from the double-blind, placebo-controlled INFAST study, Part 1 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;73(1):101-107.
To assess whether combination therapy with infliximab (IFX) plus nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is superior to NSAID monotherapy for reaching Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society (ASAS) partial remission in patients with early, active axial spondyloarthritis (SpA) who were naïve to NSAIDs or received a submaximal dose of NSAIDs.
Patients were randomised (2 : 1 ratio) to receive naproxen (NPX) 1000 mg daily plus either IFX 5 mg/kg or placebo (PBO) at weeks 0, 2, 6, 12, 18 and 24. The primary efficacy measure was the percentage of patients who met ASAS partial remission criteria at week 28. Several other measures of disease activity, clinical symptoms and patient-rated outcomes were evaluated. Treatment group differences were analysed with Fisher exact tests or analysis of covariance.
A greater percentage of patients achieved ASAS partial remission in the IFX+NPX group (61.9%; 65/105) than in the PBO+NPX group (35.3%; 18/51) at week 28 (p=0.002) and at all other visits (p<0.05, all comparisons). Results of most other disease activity and patient-reported endpoints (including Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Score, Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index, Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index, multiple quality of life measures and pain measures) showed greater improvement in the IFX+NPX group than the PBO+NPX group, with several measures demonstrating early and consistent improvement over 28 weeks of treatment.
Patients with early, active axial SpA who received IFX+NPX combination treatment were twice as likely to achieve clinical remission as patients who received NPX alone. NPX alone led to clinical remission in a third of patients.
PMCID: PMC3888606  PMID: 23696633
14.  Synovial histopathology of psoriatic arthritis, both oligo- and polyarticular, resembles spondyloarthropathy more than it does rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(3):R569-R580.
At present only few biological data are available to indicate whether psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is part of the spondyloarthropathy (SpA) concept, whether it is a separate disease entity or a heterogeneous disease group with oligoarticular/axial forms belonging to SpA and polyarticular forms resembling rheumatoid arthritis (RA). To address this issue with regard to peripheral synovitis, we compared the synovial characteristics of PsA with those of ankylosing spondylitis (AS)/undifferentiated SpA (USpA) and RA, and compared the synovium of oligoarticular versus polyarticular PsA. Synovial biopsies were obtained from patients with RA, nonpsoriatic SpA (AS + USpA), and oligoarticular and polyarticular PsA. The histological analysis included examination(s) of the lining layer thickness, vascularity, cellular infiltration, lymphoid aggregates, plasma cells and neutrophils. Also, we performed immunohistochemical assessments of CD3, CD4, CD8, CD20, CD38, CD138, CD68, CD163, CD83, CD1a, CD146, αVβ3, E-selectin, intercellular adhesion molecule-1, vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, S100A12, intracellular citrullinated proteins and major histocompatibility complex (MHC)–human cartilage (HC) gp39 peptide complexes. Comparing SpA (PsA + AS + USpA) with RA, vascularity, and neutrophil and CD163+ macrophage counts were greater in SpA (P < 0.05), whereas lining layer thickness and the number of CD83+ dendritic cells were greater in RA (P < 0.05). In RA, 44% of samples exhibited positive staining for intracellular citrullinated proteins and 46% for MHC–HC gp39 peptide complexes, whereas no staining for these markers was observed in SpA samples. We excluded influences of disease-modifying antirheumatic drug and/or corticosteroid treatment by conducting systematic analyses of treated and untreated subgroups. Focusing on PsA, no significant differences were observed between PsA and nonpsoriatic SpA. In contrast, vascularity (P < 0.001) and neutrophils were increased in PsA as compared with RA (P = 0.010), whereas staining for intracellular citrullinated proteins and MHC–HC gp39 peptide complexes was exclusively observed in RA (both P = 0.001), indicating that the same discriminating features are found in PsA and other SpA subtypes compared with RA. Exploring synovial histopathology between oligoarticular and polyarticular PsA, no significant differences were noted. Moreover, intracellular citrullinated proteins and MHC–HC gp39 peptide complexes, which are specific markers for RA, were observed in neither oligoarticular nor polyarticular PsA. Taken together, these data indicate that the synovial histopathology of PsA, either oligoarticular or polyarticular, resembles that of other SpA subtypes, whereas both groups can be differentiated from RA on the basis of these same synovial features, suggesting that peripheral synovitis in PsA belongs to the SpA concept.
PMCID: PMC1174942  PMID: 15899044
15.  Update on the use of etanercept across a spectrum of rheumatoid disorders 
Biologics : Targets & Therapy  2008;2(2):165-173.
Etanercept is a soluble TNF receptor p75 fusion protein which is approved for subcutaneous use (50 mg weekly) in the treatment of patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA), juvenile RA, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis. Etanercept binds to both TNFα and lymphotoxin and has quite a short mean half-life (70 hours). Numerous randomized clinical trials have demonstrated its efficacy to improve signs and symptoms in early and established RA and other inflammatory arthritis. Furthermore, etanercept has shown its ability to prevent radiographic progression and to improve health-related quality of life in patients with RA and psoriatic arthritis. A combination of etanercept plus methotrexate was more efficacious than etanercept monotherapy in RA patients but there is currently no evidence that such rheumatic combination is better than monotherapy in other disorders. Etanercept was generally well tolerated both in controlled trials with withdrawal rates being similar to the comparator groups and in large observational studies. Infections and injection-site reactions were the most frequently reported events. Serious infections were slightly increased but the occurrence of tuberculosis seemed less frequent than with anti-TNF monoclonal antibodies (infliximab and adalimumab). The benefit-risk ratio of etanercept appeared to be very positive, and this drug has now emerged as a major therapy in patients with active inflammatory arthritis. Furthermore, it is more frequently considered as an emerging and valuable option in patients with early disease.
PMCID: PMC2721350  PMID: 19707351
etanercept; TNF blockers; rheumatoid arthritis; juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; ankylosing spondylitis; psoriatic arthritis
16.  Switching tumour necrosis factor α antagonists in patients with ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis: an observational study over a 5‐year period 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(10):1393-1397.
To evaluate the clinical response after switching from one tumour necrosis factor (TNF)α antagonist to another in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA).
In this ongoing, longitudinal, observational study, data were prospectively collected on efficacy and safety since 2000 for patients starting biological treatments. The present analysis was restricted to patients with a diagnosis of spondyloarthropathy (SpA) who switched from one TNFα antagonist to another because of inadequate efficacy or adverse events.
In total, 589 anti‐TNFα‐naive patients were registered, of whom 165 had a diagnosis of SpA; 7 patients with AS and 15 with PsA received >1 TNFα antagonist. Two patients with PsA were treated with all the drugs. In all, 16 subjects switched from infliximab to etanercept, 7 from etanercept to adalimumab and 1 from etanercept to infliximab. Overall, a clinical response was seen in 75% of patients who changed from infliximab to etanercept, and in 57.1% who switched from etanercept to adalimumab.
The findings of this study on a selected population of patients with SpA indicate that the failure of an initial TNFα antagonist does not preclude the response to another one. Further trials are needed to confirm this preliminary observation.
PMCID: PMC1994295  PMID: 17613555
spondyloarthropathy; ankylosing spondylitis; psoriatic arthritis; TNFα antagonists; switching
17.  How to Translate Basic Knowledge into Clinical Application of Biologic Therapy in Spondyloarthritis 
Spondyloarthritis (SpA) is a family of many diseases, and these diseases share some clinical, genetic, and radiologic features. The disease process in the spine at the beginning is spinal inflammation, in which TNFα is the principal cytokine involved. Therefore, the dramatic clinical and pathologic response of anti-TNFα therapy in SpA is based upon the presence of increased TNFα in synovial tissues and sacroiliac joints, which perpetuates chronic inflammation. The increased Toll-like receptors (TCR) 2 and 4 in the serum, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, or synovial tissues of ankylosing spondyloarthritis (AS) or SpA patients suggest that SpA is highly associated with innate immunity. Any drug including anti-TNFα blocker which can downregulate the TCR, infiltrated neutrophils, or CD163+ macrophages in the synovial tissue is the rationale for the management of SpA. Like rheumatoid arthritis, the increased TH22 and TH17 cells either in blood, synovial fluid, or synovial tissues were also demonstrated in SpA. Thus, TH17 and TH22 may be reasonable cellular targets for therapeutic intervention. Drugs (anti-IL6R or anti-IL6) which can reduce the binding of IL6 and IL6R to the cell surface may be beneficial in SpA. Many proteins are implicated in the new bone formation (syndesmophyte) or ankylosis in AS or SpA. The enhanced BMP and Wnt pathway will activate osteoblasts which promote the new bone formation. However, no drug including anti-TNFα can stop or prevent the syndesmophyte in AS. In summary, looking for new targeting therapies for either anti-inflammation (beyond anti-TNF) or anti-bone formation (including anti-TGFβ or PDGF) is warranted in the future.
PMCID: PMC3693102  PMID: 23840241
18.  Profile of certolizumab and its potential in the treatment of psoriatic arthritis 
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic inflammatory arthropathy associated with psoriasis (PsO). PsA could be considered an enthesal disease because of the link between mechanical stress (entheses) and immunologically active tissue (synovium). Evidence of efficacy of anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) is supported by reduction of histological vascularity and immune cell infiltrates in synovial tissue after treatment. Certolizumab pegol (CZP) is a polyethylene glycolylated (PEGylated) Fab’ fragment of a humanized monoclonal antibody that binds and neutralizes human TNF-α. The PEG moiety of the Fab fragment, markedly increases the half-life of CZP and confers to the drug a unique structure that differs from the other anti-TNF-α agents tested for the treatment of Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, axial spondyloarthritis, nonradiographic spondyloarthritis, PsO, and PsA. In contrast to other anti-TNF-α agents, CZP did not mediate increased levels of apoptosis, suggesting that these mechanisms are not essential for the anti-TNF-α efficacy in Crohn’s disease. As CZP, infliximab, and adalimumab, but not etanercept, almost completely inhibited lipopolysaccharide-induced interleukin-1 beta release from monocytes, this cytokine-production inhibition may be relevant for drug efficacy. Due to these characteristics, it has been demonstrated in clinical studies that CZP effectively improves signs and symptoms of arthritis and physical function and skin manifestations of PsO, with a safety profile similar to rheumatoid arthritis. This drug can be considered as a valid treatment in patients affected by PsA. The efficacy and tolerability profiles suggest CZP as a suitable antipsoriatic drug in the treatment of PsA.
PMCID: PMC3633576  PMID: 23620660
psoriatic arthritis; certolizumab pegol; biological therapies; anti-TNF
19.  Adalimumab in the treatment of arthritis 
Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) has been implicated in a number of arthritic disease states, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Adalimumab is the first fully human, high-affinity, recombinant immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) anti-TNF monoclonal antibody. Adalimumab in combination with methotrexate or standard antirheumatic therapies, or as monotherapy, is effective in the treatment of adults with active rheumatoid arthritis who have had an inadequate response to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. Adalimumab is also effective in the treatment of patients with moderately to severely active psoriatic arthritis, improving both joint and skin manifestations of the disease as well as disability due to joint damage. In the Adalimumab Trial Evaluating Long-term Efficacy and Safety in Ankylosing Spondylitis (ATLAS), adalimumab significantly reduced the signs and symptoms of active ankylosing spondylitis and established a sustained clinical response in patients who had an inadequate response or intolerance to nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug therapy. Overall, across these indications, adalimumab demonstrated a rapid onset of action, sustained efficacy with long-term treatment, and was well-tolerated, with few patients discontinuing treatment because of adverse events. The safety profile was similar to other TNF antagonists. Inhibition of TNF activity by adalimumab also significantly improved physical functioning and quality of life measures.
PMCID: PMC1936294  PMID: 18360621
Adalimumab; TNF antagonists; rheumatoid arthritis; psoriatic arthritis; ankylosing spondylitis
20.  Switching TNF antagonists in patients with chronic arthritis: an observational study of 488 patients over a four-year period 
The objective of this work is to analyze the survival of infliximab, etanercept and adalimumab in patients who have switched among tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists for the treatment of chronic arthritis. BIOBADASER is a national registry of patients with different forms of chronic arthritis who are treated with biologics. Using this registry, we have analyzed patient switching of TNF antagonists. The cumulative discontinuation rate was calculated using the actuarial method. The log-rank test was used to compare survival curves, and Cox regression models were used to assess independent factors associated with discontinuing medication. Between February 2000 and September 2004, 4,706 patients were registered in BIOBADASER, of whom 68% had rheumatoid arthritis, 11% ankylosing spondylitis, 10% psoriatic arthritis, and 11% other forms of chronic arthritis. One- and two-year drug survival rates of the TNF antagonist were 0.83 and 0.75, respectively. There were 488 patients treated with more than one TNF antagonist. In this situation, survival of the second TNF antagonist decreased to 0.68 and 0.60 at 1 and 2 years, respectively. Survival was better in patients replacing the first TNF antagonist because of adverse events (hazard ratio (HR) for discontinuation 0.55 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.34–0.84)), and worse in patients older than 60 years (HR 1.10 (95% CI 0.97–2.49)) or who were treated with infliximab (HR 3.22 (95% CI 2.13–4.87)). In summary, in patients who require continuous therapy and have failed to respond to a TNF antagonist, replacement with a different TNF antagonist may be of use under certain situations. This issue will deserve continuous reassessment with the arrival of new medications.
PMCID: PMC1526564  PMID: 16507128
21.  Building consensus on nomenclature and disease classification for ankylosing spondylitis: results and discussion of a questionnaire prepared for the International Workshop on New Treatment Strategies in Ankylosing Spondylitis, Berlin, Germany, 18–19 January 2002 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2002;61(Suppl 3):iii61-iii67.
Background: There is currently no universal consensus on nomenclature for spondyloarthropathy (SpA), or on activity and severity criteria for ankylosing spondylitis (AS).
Method: Points of agreement and majority opinions among 28 international experts in the field were identified by questionnaire. Agreement was defined as >80% concurrence, clear majority as >60% concurrence, and a majority or trend as >50% concurrence.
Results: Respondents agreed on the need for one term that reflects the inflammatory nature of the disease, but no agreement was reached on a specific term. Agreement included subdivision of patients with SpA into AS, psoriatic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease associated arthritis, and undifferentiated spondyloarthritis/spondyloarthropathy. A majority of experts defined active disease as fulfilling classification criteria for AS and/or a SpA, and disease activity measured by a Bath AS Disease Activity Index (BASDAI) score >4 determined by two patient visits during a two month period, but no maximum radiographic score. The majority of participants considered failure of treatment response to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) alone to be a prerequisite for active/severe AS, and 15/28 (54%) thought that NSAID treatment failure should be defined as lack of response to two or more NSAIDs.
Conclusions: Respondents agreed that a two to five year study is the ethical method to demonstrate effects of anti-tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) therapy on radiographic progression of AS, and that inclusion criteria should include a certain level of disease activity (measured by BASDAI) and failure of certain treatments. After the efficacy of anti-TNFα therapy in AS and psoriatic arthritis is proved, respondents agreed that more studies will be needed to show efficacy for other SpA subsets.
PMCID: PMC1766727  PMID: 12381512
22.  Treating spondyloarthritis, including ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis, to target: recommendations of an international task force 
Therapeutic targets have been defined for diseases like diabetes, hypertension or rheumatoid arthritis and adhering to them has improved outcomes. Such targets are just emerging for spondyloarthritis (SpA).
To define the treatment target for SpA including ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and develop recommendations for achieving the target, including a treat-to-target management strategy.
Based on results of a systematic literature review and expert opinion, a task force of expert physicians and patients developed recommendations which were broadly discussed and voted upon in a Delphi-like process. Level of evidence, grade and strength of the recommendations were derived by respective means. The commonalities between axial SpA, peripheral SpA and PsA were discussed in detail.
Although the literature review did not reveal trials comparing a treat-to-target approach with another or no strategy, it provided indirect evidence regarding an optimised approach to therapy that facilitated the development of recommendations. The group agreed on 5 overarching principles and 11 recommendations; 9 of these recommendations related commonly to the whole spectrum of SpA and PsA, and only 2 were designed separately for axial SpA, peripheral SpA and PsA. The main treatment target, which should be based on a shared decision with the patient, was defined as remission, with the alternative target of low disease activity. Follow-up examinations at regular intervals that depend on the patient's status should safeguard the evolution of disease activity towards the targeted goal. Additional recommendations relate to extra-articular and extramusculoskeletal aspects and other important factors, such as comorbidity. While the level of evidence was generally quite low, the mean strength of recommendation was 9–10 (10: maximum agreement) for all recommendations. A research agenda was formulated.
The task force defined the treatment target as remission or, alternatively, low disease activity, being aware that the evidence base is not strong and needs to be expanded by future research. These recommendations can inform the various stakeholders about expert opinion that aims for reaching optimal outcomes of SpA.
PMCID: PMC3888616  PMID: 23749611
Treat-to-target; spondyloarthritis; ankylosing spondylitis; psoriatic arthritis; therapy
23.  Expanding the armamentarium for the spondyloarthropathies 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;6(Suppl 2):S36-S43.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a member of the family of spondyloarthropathies, which are inflammatory arthritides largely involving the axial skeleton and commonly accompanied by peripheral arthritis. Genetic factors, particularly the presence of HLA-B27, are major contributors to the susceptibility for AS. Despite some therapeutic advances, the treatment options for patients with AS and related disorders have been limited. Several lines of evidence have led to the hypothesis that patients with AS might benefit from treatment with tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Specifically, TNF concentrations are known to be significantly elevated in the synovium of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), in the inflamed gut of patients with inflammatory bowel disease, and in the inflamed sacroiliac joints of patients with AS. The anti-TNF agents have been shown to be of benefit in, and currently have indications for, RA (etanercept, infliximab, adalimumab), Crohn's disease (infliximab), and psoriatic arthritis (etanercept). Because the spondyloarthropathies share pathogenetic mechanisms with the above-specified disease states, studies have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-TNF agents in several disorders, including AS. Data from clinical trials so far with infliximab and etanercept show that patients with AS and related disorders achieve significant improvement in clinical signs and symptoms based on validated outcomes measures. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can facilitate the early diagnosis of AS. Studies with infliximab using MRI together with updated scoring methods demonstrated significant decreases in associated spinal inflammation. TNF antagonist therapy is well tolerated in patients with AS, with a side effect profile consistent with the prior experience of patients with RA.
PMCID: PMC2833456  PMID: 15228620
efficacy; etanercept; infliximab; spondyloarthropathies; tumor necrosis factor
24.  Baseline characteristics and patient reported outcome data of patients prescribed etanercept: web-based and telephone evaluation 
The anti-TNF inhibitor, etanercept is administered as a once or twice weekly subcutaneous injection for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Limited data from the patients' perspective are available on the use of biologics in the treatment of these chronic conditions and this evaluation was designed to collect data from patients who had been prescribed etanercept for the first time. This manuscript describes the self-reported baseline characteristics and health-related quality of life of patients prior to treatment. Follow-up data will be reported separately.
Patients throughout the United Kingdom prescribed etanercept were invited to participate in an evaluation of their condition and treatment using a data collection tool consisting of a web-based system supplemented by telephone reporting (PROBE). Outcome measures reported at baseline included demographic data, the condition being treated, previous treatment with biologic agents and current and previous medications. Questions modified from standard, validated quality of life questionnaires such as EQ-5D were incorporated and patients made a global assessment of the severity of their own illness using the CGI-S scale.
A total of 344 patients/carers/parents participated in the evaluation at baseline, 290 (84%) by online questionnaire and 54 (16%) by telephone. Overall, the study population had a mean age of 53 years, was predominantly female (62%) and 20% had been previously treated with a biologic agent. A total of 191 (56%) patients were receiving treatment with etanercept for rheumatoid arthritis, 44 (13%) for psoriatic arthritis, 43 (13%) for ankylosing spondylitis, 35 (10%) for psoriasis, 9 (3%) for known juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and 22 (6%) for another condition/patient unsure/missing response. All patients were prescribed the 50 mg weekly dose of etanercept except for 1 patient with JIA (40 mg) dose and 2 patients with psoriasis (100 mg). Thirty-eight percent of patients with rheumatoid arthritis were not receiving treatment with methotrexate.
The baseline characteristics and health-related quality of life of first time users of etanercept can be adequately described using self-reported patient data collected using an online questionnaire with a telephone option (PROBE).
PMCID: PMC3141801  PMID: 21672203
25.  Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae IgA antibodies are raised in ankylosing spondylitis and undifferentiated spondyloarthropathy 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2003;62(5):455-459.
Objectives: To investigate whether anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies (ASCA), a marker for Crohn's disease (CD), are present in spondyloarthropathies (SpA) and in the subgroups ankylosing spondylitis (AS), undifferentiated SpA (uSpA), and psoriatic arthritis (PsA), in comparison with healthy and inflammatory controls (patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA)).
Methods: ASCA IgA and IgG levels were measured with an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit (Medipan, Germany) in 26 patients with CD, 108 patients with SpA (43 patients with AS, 20 patients with uSpA, 45 patients with PsA), 56 patients with RA and 45 healthy controls. Gut biopsy samples were available in 18 AS and 10 patients with uSpA, these samples were screened for the presence of inflammation.
Results: Both ASCA IgG and IgA levels were raised in CD compared with healthy controls and patients with RA. ASCA IgA, but not IgG levels, were higher in SpA than in both healthy and RA controls. ASCA IgA levels were raised in AS and uSpA, but not in PsA. No significant differences in ASCA IgA levels were noted between patients with SpA with and without histological gut inflammation.
Conclusion: ASCA IgA levels are significantly higher in SpA, and more specifically in AS, than in healthy controls and patients with RA. This is the first serum marker associated with SpA. No correlation between the presence of subclinical bowel inflammation and ASCA IgA levels was noted. However, it remains to be evaluated whether patients with SpA with ASCA have an increased risk of developing CD.
PMCID: PMC1754530  PMID: 12695160

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