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1.  A Candidate Gene Approach Identifies the TRAF1/C5 Region as a Risk Factor for Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(9):e278.
Background
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disorder affecting ∼1% of the population. The disease results from the interplay between an individual's genetic background and unknown environmental triggers. Although human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) account for ∼30% of the heritable risk, the identities of non-HLA genes explaining the remainder of the genetic component are largely unknown. Based on functional data in mice, we hypothesized that the immune-related genes complement component 5 (C5) and/or TNF receptor-associated factor 1 (TRAF1), located on Chromosome 9q33–34, would represent relevant candidate genes for RA. We therefore aimed to investigate whether this locus would play a role in RA.
Methods and Findings
We performed a multitiered case-control study using 40 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from the TRAF1 and C5 (TRAF1/C5) region in a set of 290 RA patients and 254 unaffected participants (controls) of Dutch origin. Stepwise replication of significant SNPs was performed in three independent sample sets from the Netherlands (ncases/controls = 454/270), Sweden (ncases/controls = 1,500/1,000) and US (ncases/controls = 475/475). We observed a significant association (p < 0.05) of SNPs located in a haplotype block that encompasses a 65 kb region including the 3′ end of C5 as well as TRAF1. A sliding window analysis revealed an association peak at an intergenic region located ∼10 kb from both C5 and TRAF1. This peak, defined by SNP14/rs10818488, was confirmed in a total of 2,719 RA patients and 1,999 controls (odds ratiocommon = 1.28, 95% confidence interval 1.17–1.39, pcombined = 1.40 × 10−8) with a population-attributable risk of 6.1%. The A (minor susceptibility) allele of this SNP also significantly correlates with increased disease progression as determined by radiographic damage over time in RA patients (p = 0.008).
Conclusions
Using a candidate-gene approach we have identified a novel genetic risk factor for RA. Our findings indicate that a polymorphism in the TRAF1/C5 region increases the susceptibility to and severity of RA, possibly by influencing the structure, function, and/or expression levels of TRAF1 and/or C5.
Using a candidate-gene approach, Rene Toes and colleagues identified a novel genetic risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis in theTRAF1/C5 region.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a very common chronic illness that affects around 1% of people in developed countries. It is caused by an abnormal immune reaction to various tissues within the body; as well as affecting joints and causing an inflammatory arthritis, it can also affect many other organs of the body. Severe rheumatoid arthritis can be life-threatening, but even mild forms of the disease cause substantial illness and disability. Current treatments aim to give symptomatic relief with the use of simple analgesics, or anti-inflammatory drugs. In addition, most patients are also treated with what are known as disease-modifying agents, which aim to prevent joint damage. Rheumatoid arthritis is known to have a genetic component. For example, an association has been shown with the part of the genome that contains the human leukocyte antigens (HLAs), which are involved in the immune response. Information on other genes involved would be helpful both for understanding the underlying cause of the disease and possibly for the discovery of new treatments.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous work in mice that have a disease similar to human rheumatoid arthritis has identified a number of possible candidate genes. One of these genes, complement component 5 (C5) is involved in the complement system—a primitive system within the body that is involved in the defense against foreign molecules. In humans the gene for C5 is located on Chromosome 9 close to another gene involved in the inflammatory response, TNF receptor-associated factor 1 (TRAF1). A preliminary study in humans of this region had shown some evidence, albeit weak, to suggest that this region might be associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The authors set out to look in more detail, and in a larger group of individuals, to see if they could prove this association.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers took 40 genetic markers, known as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), from across the region that included the C5 and TRAF1 genes. SNPs have each been assigned a unique reference number that specifies a point in the human genome, and each is present in alternate forms so can be differentiated. They compared which of the alternate forms were present in 290 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 254 unaffected participants of Dutch origin. They then repeated the study in three other groups of patients and controls of Dutch, Swedish, and US origin. They found a consistent association with rheumatoid arthritis of one region of 65 kilobases (a small distance in genetic terms) that included one end of the C5 gene as well as the TRAF1 gene. They could refine the area of interest to a piece marked by one particular SNP that lay between the genes. They went on to show that the genetic region in which these genes are located may be involved in the binding of a protein that modifies the transcription of genes, thus providing a possible explanation for the association. Furthermore, they showed that one of the alternate versions of the marker in this region was associated with more aggressive disease.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The finding of a genetic association is the first step in identifying a genetic component of a disease. The strength of this study is that a novel genetic susceptibility factor for RA has been identified and that the overall result is consistent in four different populations as well as being associated with disease severity. Further work will need to be done to confirm the association in other populations and then to identify the precise genetic change involved. Hopefully this work will lead to new avenues of investigation for therapy.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040278.
• Medline Plus, the health information site for patients from the US National Library of Medicine, has a page of resources on rheumatoid arthritis
• The UK's National Health Service online information site has information on rheumatoid arthritis
• The Arthritis Research Campaign, a UK charity that funds research on all types of arthritis, has a booklet with information for patients on rheumatoid arthritis
• Reumafonds, a Dutch arthritis foundation, gives information on rheumatoid arthritis (in Dutch)
• Autocure is an initiative whose objective is to transform knowledge obtained from molecular research into a cure for an increasing number of patients suffering from inflammatory rheumatic diseases
• The European league against Rheumatism, an organisation which represents the patient, health professionals, and scientific societies of rheumatology of all European nations
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040278
PMCID: PMC1976626  PMID: 17880261
2.  The role of biologic agents in damage progression in rheumatoid arthritis: indirect comparison of data coming from randomized clinical trials 
Objectives:
All biologic agents approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have been tested versus methotrexate (MTX) for efficacy on damage progression in several randomized clinical trials (RCTs), but direct head-to-head comparisons have never been conducted. The purpose of this investigation is to analyse data coming from main RA RCTs and to perform an indirect comparison.
Methods:
A systematic review of literature from 1988 to 2011 was conducted. Only randomized, double-blind, controlled, comparative trials, with evaluation of radiographic progression were included. The radiographic score was standardized and mean difference in the percentage of the annual radiographic progression rate was used as the effect measure. Heterogeneity between studies was estimated by I2 test. For each trial, the effect was plotted according to its standard error in a funnel plot.
Results:
Of 44 potentially relevant trials, 12 RCTs were included in the study. In order to optimize RCTs comparison, studies were stratified in early and late RA group. Main population characteristics were similar in both early and late RA groups, whereas the standardized baseline radiographic score value significantly differs among trials in both early (range 2.7–21.9) and late (range 23.46–75) RA groups. The standardized annual estimated progression is similar across the late RA group. Strong evidence of heterogeneity (I2 = 97%, p = 0.00001) but no asymmetry of the funnel plot was observed in the early RA group. Total mean difference was −16.28 (95% confidence interval [CI] −24.42 to −8.14). For the late RA group a random model was used (I2 = 99%, p = 0.00001) and a total mean difference of −39.25 (95% CI −53.77 to −24.73) was found.
Conclusions:
All biologic agents provide a favourable effect on disease progression both in early and late RA. The significant heterogeneity among various RCTs did not allow an effective comparison of the performance of biologic agents in each study.
doi:10.1177/1759720X12449082
PMCID: PMC3403255  PMID: 22859920
Rheumatoid arthritis; biologic therapy; radiographic progression; metaanalysis
3.  Regulation of Peripheral Inflammation by Spinal p38 MAP Kinase in Rats 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(9):e338.
Background
Somatic afferent input to the spinal cord from a peripheral inflammatory site can modulate the peripheral response. However, the intracellular signaling mechanisms in the spinal cord that regulate this linkage have not been defined. Previous studies suggest spinal cord p38 mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase and cytokines participate in nociceptive behavior. We therefore determined whether these pathways also regulate peripheral inflammation in rat adjuvant arthritis, which is a model of rheumatoid arthritis.
Methods and Findings
Selective blockade of spinal cord p38 MAP kinase by administering the p38 inhibitor SB203580 via intrathecal (IT) catheters in rats with adjuvant arthritis markedly suppressed paw swelling, inhibited synovial inflammation, and decreased radiographic evidence of joint destruction. The same dose of SB203580 delivered systemically had no effect, indicating that the effect was mediated by local concentrations in the neural compartment. Evaluation of articular gene expression by quantitative real-time PCR showed that spinal p38 inhibition markedly decreased synovial interleukin-1 and −6 and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP3) gene expression. Activation of p38 required tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) in the nervous system because IT etanercept (a TNF inhibitor) given during adjuvant arthritis blocked spinal p38 phosphorylation and reduced clinical signs of adjuvant arthritis.
Conclusions
These data suggest that peripheral inflammation is sensed by the central nervous system (CNS), which subsequently activates stress-induced kinases in the spinal cord via a TNFα-dependent mechanism. Intracellular p38 MAP kinase signaling processes this information and profoundly modulates somatic inflammatory responses. Characterization of this mechanism could have clinical and basic research implications by supporting development of new treatments for arthritis and clarifying how the CNS regulates peripheral immune responses.
Inhibition of p38 MAP kinase in the CNS reduces peripheral inflammation and joint destruction in arthritic rats.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease marked by chronic inflammation, leading to joint pain and destruction. Pain and inflammation in the joints as well as other locations in the body (i.e., the “periphery”) are constantly monitored by the central nervous system (i.e., the brain and spinal cord). Scientists have long suspected that the central nervous system (CNS) can regulate inflammation and immune responses, but little is known about how the CNS does this. One potential player is a protein called p38 that is involved in a number of cellular processes critical to the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Several substances that block the action of p38 are effective in animal models of arthritis and are currently being tested in clinical trials in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Originally, p38 was considered as a drug target that should mainly be blocked in the joints. But recent work has shown that pain in the periphery can lead to activation of p38 in the spinal cord, and that blocking p38 in the spinal cord might reduce peripheral pain.
Why Was This Study Done?
Based on the observation that p38 is activated in the CNS in response to peripheral pain, the researchers who did this study wondered whether it might be involved in the interaction between inflammation in the joints and the CNS.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They induced inflammation in the joints of rats and then looked for responses in the spinal cord. They found that p38 was indeed activated in the spinal cord of these rats. This activation depended on another protein, called TNFα, which is another major regulator of inflammation. The scientists then blocked either p38 or the TNFα with drugs directly delivered to the spinal cord of the arthritic rats, they could substantially reduce inflammation, arthritis, and destruction of the joints, compared with rats that had undergone the same treatment but received no active drug. Treatment of arthritic rats with the same amount of drugs given directly under the skin (this is called “systemic treatment”) did not have any effect on the joints.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Blocking p38 and TNFα by giving drugs systemically is known to have beneficial effects in animal models and human patients with rheumatoid arthritis. However, the drugs tested in patients to date also have side effects. Given that much lower doses were needed to achieve beneficial effects in the rats when the drugs were administered directly into the spinal cord, it is possible that spinal cord administration might reduce the side effects (and possibly the costs) of the drugs without compromising the benefits to the patients. If future studies confirm that the action of these drugs on the CNS is essential to achieve a response even when administered as a systemic treatment, designing drugs that get into the CNS easier might improve the effectiveness and/or make it possible to use lower doses systemically.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030338.
MedlinePlus entry on rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis pages from the US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Rheumatoid Arthritis fact sheet from the American College of Rheumatology Description
Wikipedia entry on rheumatoid arthritis (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030338
PMCID: PMC1560929  PMID: 16953659
4.  Progression of radiographic joint damage in different eras: trends towards milder disease in rheumatoid arthritis are attributable to improved treatment 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;65(9):1192-1197.
Background
Severity of rheumatoid arthritis and progression of radiographic joint damage have decreased over the last decades.
Aim
To examine whether this trend is attributable to an underlying trend towards milder disease or to improved treatment.
Methods
The study used an inception cohort of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis seen at the Wichita Arthritis Center, Wichita, Kansas, USA, since 1973 and monitored prospectively since their first clinic visit through clinical, radiographic, laboratory, demographic and self‐reported data. The radiographic disease progression in patients with disease onset in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s was compared using a multivariate regression model for longitudinal data. The analysis was adjusted for differences in baseline predictors, type of disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and steroid use.
Results
418 patients with rheumatoid arthritis with radiographic follow‐up were included. Patients in earlier decades used fewer DMARDs, had longer disease durations and higher tender joint counts at their first visit. Other important predictors of disease progression did not differ significantly between decades of disease onset. The unadjusted rates of radiographic progression differed between decades (analysis of variance, p = 0.01), with a significant trend towards less radiographic progression in more recent times (trend, p<0.001). However, after adjusting for DMARD use, steroid use and baseline predictors, differences between decades vanished (analysis of variance, p = 0.40) and the trend towards less radiographic progression disappeared (trend, p = 0.45).
Conclusion
These results suggest that the observed trend towards milder disease in rheumatoid arthritis is attributable to more effective antirheumatic treatment and not to a secular trend.
doi:10.1136/ard.2005.049338
PMCID: PMC1798270  PMID: 16540549
5.  Radiographic Severity of Rheumatoid Arthritis in African-Americans: Results from the CLEAR Registry 
Arthritis care & research  2010;62(5):624-631.
Objective
To describe radiographic changes in African-Americans with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) from the CLEAR (Consortium for the Longitudinal Evaluation of African-Americans with Early Rheumatoid Arthritis) Registry, a multicenter observational study.
Methods
Self-declared African-American patients, were enrolled in CLEAR I, a longitudinal cohort of early RA (disease duration <2 years) from 2000 to 2005; or in CLEAR II, a cross-sectional cohort (any disease duration), from 2006 to the present. Demographic and clinical data were obtained, and sets of hand/wrist and foot radiographs were scored using the modified Sharp/van der Heijde scoring system.
Results
A total of 357 and 418 patients, respectively, have been enrolled into CLEAR I and CLEAR II. We report here an interim analysis of radiographic severity in these patients. For the CLEAR I cohort, 294 patients had a mean radiographic score of 2.89 at the baseline visit; 32.0% showed either erosions (25.9%) or joint space narrowing (JSN) (19.4%). At the 36-month visit the mean score was 5.65; 44.2% had erosions, 41.5% JSN and 55.4% had either. Among those patients without radiographic damage at baseline, 18.9% had progressed at the 36-month visit, compared to 57.1% of those with baseline damage (p<0.0001). For the CLEAR II cohort, 167 patients with RA of any duration, 65.3% exhibited joint erosions, 65.3% JSN and 74.8% exhibited either. The mean radiographic score was 33.42.
Conclusion
This is the largest radiographic study of African American RA patients. Damage occurs early in the disease and is associated with radiographic progression at 3 years of disease duration. The CLEAR Registry will provide a valuable resource for future analyses of genetic, clinical, and environmental factors associated with radiographic severity of RA in African-Americans.
doi:10.1002/acr.20040
PMCID: PMC3052790  PMID: 20461784
6.  Reporting of radiographic methods in randomised controlled trials assessing structural outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;66(5):651-657.
Background
Because an increasing number of clinical trials evaluating disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) emphasise radiographic outcomes as a primary outcome, using a reproducible radiographic measure should be placed at a premium.
Aim
To evaluate the reporting of radiographic methods in randomised trials assessing radiographic outcomes in RA.
Methods
Medline was searched for randomised controlled trials assessing radiographic outcomes published between January 1994 and December 2005 in general medical and specialty journals with a high impact factor. One reader extracted data (radiographic acquisition, assessment and reproducibility) using a standardised form.
Results
A total of 46 reports were included in the analysis. The mean (SD) methodological quality scores on the Jadad scale (range 0–5) and the Delphi list (0–9) were 2.9 (1.2) and 6.4 (1.3), respectively. Use of a standardised procedure for the acquisition of the radiographs was reported in 2 (4.3%) articles. 2 (4.3%) reports indicated that the quality of the radiographs was evaluated. In 65.2% of the reports, ⩾2 radiographic scores were used. Reporting of radiographic assessment was well detailed for number of readers (91.3%), information on readers (71.7%), blinding (91.4%) and how films were viewed (74.0%). The reproducibility of the reading was reported in 39.1% of the articles.
Conclusion
The reporting of results of randomised controlled trials of radiographic outcomes in RA shows great variability in radiographic scores used. Reporting of radiographic methods could be improved upon, especially the acquisition procedure and the reproducibility of the reading.
doi:10.1136/ard.2006.063164
PMCID: PMC1954623  PMID: 17158823
7.  Reporting of radiographic methods in randomised controlled trials assessing structural outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;66(5):651-657.
Objective
Because an increasing number of clinical trials evaluating disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) emphasize radiographic outcomes as a primary outcome, using a reproducible radiographic measure should be placed at a premium. We aimed to evaluate the reporting of radiographic methods in randomized trials assessing radiographic outcomes in RA.
Methods
We searched MEDLINE for randomized controlled trials assessing radiographic outcomes published between January 1994 and December 2005 in general medical and specialty journals with a high impact factor. One reader extracted data (radiographic acquisition, assessment and reproducibility) using a standardized form.
Results
A total of 46 reports were included in the analysis. The mean (SD) methodological quality scores on the Jadad scale (range 0–5) and the Delphi list (0–9) were 2.9 (1.2) and 6.4 (1.3), respectively. Use of a standardized procedure for the acquisition of the radiographs was reported in 2 articles (4.3%). Two reports (4.3%) indicated that the quality of the radiographs was evaluated. In 65.2% of the reports, 2 or more radiographic scores were used. Reporting of radiographic assessment was well detailed for number of readers (91.3%), information on readers (71.7%), blinding (91.4%) and how films were viewed (74.0%). The reproducibility of the reading was reported in 39.1% of the articles.
Conclusion
Our results highlight that the reporting of results of randomized controlled trials of radiographic outcomes in RA shows great variability in radiographic scores used and that reporting of radiographic methods could be improved upon, especially the acquisition procedure and the reproducibility of the reading.
doi:10.1136/ard.2006.063164
PMCID: PMC1954623  PMID: 17158823
Arthritis, Rheumatoid; drug therapy; radiography; Arthrography; methods; Clinical Competence; Foot Joints; radiography; Hand Joints; radiography; Humans; Periodicals; Randomized Controlled Trials; standards; Reproducibility of Results; Research Design; Treatment Outcome; rheumatoid arthritis, randomized controlled trials, reproducibility; radiographic acquisition; radiographic assessment
8.  Gene therapy for established murine collagen-induced arthritis by local and systemic adenovirus-mediated delivery of interleukin-4 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(4):293-302.
To determine whether IL-4 is therapeutic in treating established experimental arthritis, a recombinant adenovirus carrying the gene that encodes murine IL-4 (Ad-mIL-4) was used for periarticular injection into the ankle joints into mice with established collagen-induced arthritis (CIA). Periarticular injection of Ad-mIL-4 resulted in a reduction in the severity of arthritis and joint swelling compared with saline- and adenoviral control groups. Local expression of IL-4 also reduced macroscopic signs of joint inflammation and bone erosion. Moreover, injection of Ad-mIL-4 into the hind ankle joints resulted in a decrease in disease severity in the untreated front paws. Systemic delivery of murine IL-4 by intravenous injection of Ad-mIL-4 resulted in a significant reduction in the severity of early-stage arthritis.
Introduction:
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic autoimmune disease that is characterized by joint inflammation, and progressive cartilage and bone erosion. Recent research has identified certain biologic agents that appear more able than conventional therapies to halt effectively the progression of disease, as well as ameliorate disease symptoms. One potential problem with the use of biologic agents for arthritis therapy is the need for daily or weekly repeat dosing. The transfer of genes directly to the synovial lining can theoretically circumvent the need for repeat dosing and reduce potential systemic side effects [1,2]. However, although many genes have been effective in treating murine CIA if administrated at a time before disease onset, local intra-articular or periarticular gene transfer has not been highly effective in halting the progression of established disease. IL-4, similar to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and IL-1 inhibitors, has been shown be therapeutic for the treatment of murine CIA when administered intravenously as a recombinant protein, either alone or in combination with IL-10. IL-4 can downregulate the production of proinflammatory and T-helper (Th)1-type cytokines by inducing mRNA degradation and upregulating the expression of inhibitors of proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) [3,4]. IL-4 is able to inhibit IL-2 and IFN-γ production by Th1 cells, resulting in suppression of macrophage activation and the production of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-α by monocytes and macrophages [4,5,6,7,8,9].
Objective:
In order to examine the therapeutic effects of local and systemic IL-4 expression in established CIA, an adenoviral vector carrying the gene for murine IL-4 (Ad-mIL-4) was generated. The ability of Ad-mIL-4 to treat established CIA was evaluated by local periarticular and systemic intravenous injection of Ad-mIL-4 into mice at various times after disease onset.
Materials and methods:
Male DBA/1 lacJ (H-2q) mice, aged 7-8 weeks, were purchased from The Jackson Laboratory (Bar Harbor, ME, USA). The mice were immunized intradermally at the base of tail with 100 μ g bovine type II collagen. On day 21 after priming, mice received a boost injection (intradermally) with 100 μ g type II collagen in incomplete adjuvant. For the synchronous onset of arthritis, 40 μ g lipopolysaccharide (Sigma, St Louis, MO, USA) was injected intraperitoneally on day 28. Ad-mIL-4 was injected periarticularly into the hind ankle joints of mice on day 32 or intravenously by tail vein injection on day 29. Disease severity was monitored every other day using an established macroscopic scoring system ranging from 0 to 4: 0, normal; 1, detectable arthritis with erythma; 2, significant swelling and redness; 3, severe swelling and redness from joint to digit; and 4, maximal swelling with ankylosis. The average of macroscopic score was expressed as a cumulative value for all paws, with a maximum possible score of 16 per mouse. Cytokine production by joint tissue or serum were assessed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA; R&D Systems, Minneapolis, MN, USA).
Results:
To examine the therapeutic effects of IL-4 gene transfer in a murine model of arthritis, 5×108 particles of Ad-mIL-4 and enhanced green fluorescent protein (Ad-eGFP) were administered by periarticular injection into the ankle joints of mice with established disease 4 days after lipopolysaccharide injection. All mice had established disease at time of injection. As shown in Figure 1, the severity of arthritis (Fig. 1a), paw thickness (Fig. 1b), and the number of arthritic paws (Fig. 1c) were all significantly reduced in the Ad-mIL-4 group, compared with the saline- and Ad-eGFP-treated groups. Analysis of the bones in the ankle joints of control arthritic mice showed evidence of erosion with an associated monocytic infiltrate around the joint space compared with the Ad-mIL-4-treated and nonarthritic control joints. In addition, injection of the ankle joints in the hind legs resulted in a therapeutic effect in the front paws. A similar contralateral effect has been observed with adenoviral-mediated delivery of viral (v)-IL-10. Interestingly, a high level of murine IL-10 also was detected from the joint lysates of Ad-mIL-4-treated naïve and arthritic mice, with the production of endogenous IL-10 correlating with the dose of Ad-mIL-4. The administration of recombinant IL-4 protein systemically has been shown to be therapeutic in murine CIA models if given before disease onset. To examine the effect of systemic IL-4 delivered by gene transfer, 1×109 particles of Ad-mIL-4 were injected via the tail vein of collagen-immunized mice the day after lipopolysaccharide injection. Whereas the immunized control mice, injected with Ad-eGFP, showed disease onset on day 3 after lipopolysaccharide injection, Ad-mIL-4-treated mice showed a delay in disease onset and as a reduction in the total number of arthritic paws. Also, systemic injection of Ad-mIL-4 suppressed the severity of arthritis in CIA mice according to arthritis index.
Discussion:
Gene therapy represents a novel approach for delivery of therapeutic agents to joints in order to treat the pathologies associated with RA and osteoarthritis, as well as other disorders of the joints. In the present study we examined the ability of local periarticular and systemic gene transfer of IL-4 to treat established and early-stage murine CIA, respectively. We have demonstrated that both local and systemic administration of Ad-mIL-4 resulted in a reduction in the severity of arthritis, as well as in the number of arthritic paws. In addition, the local gene transfer of IL-4 reduced histologic signs of inflammation and of bone erosion. Interestingly, local delivery of Ad-mIL-4 was able to confer a therapeutic effect to the untreated, front paws through a currently unknown mechanism. In addition, both local and systemic expression of IL-4 resulted in an increase in the level of endogenous IL-10, as well as of IL-1Ra (data not shown). Previous experiments have shown that gene transfer of IL-10 and IL-1 and TNF inhibitors at the time of disease initiation (day 28) is therapeutic. However, delivery of these agents after disease onset appeared to have only limited therapeutic effect. In contrast, the present results demonstrate that IL-4, resulting from local periarticular and systemic injection of Ad-mIL-4, was able partially to reverse progression of established and early-stage disease, respectively. These results, as well as those of others, support the potential application of IL-4 gene therapy for the clinical treatment of RA.
PMCID: PMC17812  PMID: 11056670
adenoviral vectors; collagen-induced arthritis; gene therapy; IL-4; IL-10; rheumatoid arthritis
9.  We should not forget the foot: relations between signs and symptoms, damage, and function in rheumatoid arthritis 
Clinical Rheumatology  2011;30(11):1475-1479.
We studied rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with foot complaints to address the associations between clinical signs and symptoms, radiographic changes, and function in connection with disease duration. Secondly, we describe the contribution of several foot segments to the clinical presentation and function. In 30 RA patients with complaints of their feet, attributed to either signs of arthritis and/or radiographic damage, we compared radiographic, ultrasound, clinical, and functional parameters of the feet and ankle. Pain and swelling of the ankle were correlated weakly but statistically significantly with limitation and disability (0.273 to 0.293) as measured on the 5-Foot Function Index (FFI). The clinical signs of the forefoot joints did not influence any of the functional outcome measures. Radiographic scores for both forefeet (SvdH) and hindfeet (Larsen) were correlated with the total Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index (HAQ DI) and the 5-FFI limitation subscale. Pain and disease duration, more than radiographic damage, influence the total HAQ DI significantly. With the progression of time, structural damage and function of the rheumatic foot worsen in RA patients. Pain and swelling of the ankle contribute more to disability than radiographic damage of the foot and ankle.
doi:10.1007/s10067-011-1780-8
PMCID: PMC3203245  PMID: 21614474
Ankle; 5-FFI; Foot; Function; HAQ; Radiographic damage; Rheumatoid arthritis
10.  Association of IL4R single-nucleotide polymorphisms with rheumatoid nodules in African Americans with rheumatoid arthritis 
Introduction
To determine whether IL4R single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) rs1805010 (I50V) and rs1801275 (Q551R), which have been associated with disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients of European ancestry, relate to the presence of rheumatoid nodules and radiographic erosions in African Americans.
Methods
Two IL4R SNPs, rs1805010 and rs1801275, were genotyped in 749 patients from the Consortium for Longitudinal Evaluation of African-Americans with Early Rheumatoid Arthritis (CLEAR) registries. End points were rheumatoid nodules defined as present either by physical examination or by chest radiography and radiographic erosions (radiographs of hands/wrists and feet were scored using the modified Sharp/van der Heijde system). Statistical analyses were performed by using logistic regression modeling adjusted for confounding factors.
Results
Of the 749 patients with RA, 156 (20.8%) had rheumatoid nodules, with a mean age of 47.0 years, 84.6% female gender, and median disease duration of 1.9 years. Of the 461 patients with available radiographic data, 185 (40.1%) had erosions (score >0); their mean age was 46.7 years; 83.3% were women; and median disease duration was 1.5 years. Patients positive for HLA-DRB1 shared epitope (SE) and autoantibodies (rheumatoid factor (RF) or anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP)) had a higher risk of developing rheumatoid nodules in the presence of the AA and AG alleles of rs1801275 (odds ratio (OR)adj = 8.08 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.60-40.89), P = 0.01 and ORadj = 2.97 (95% CI, 1.08 to 8.17), P = 0.04, respectively). Likewise, patients positive for the HLA-DRB1 SE and RF alone had a higher risk of developing rheumatoid nodules in presence of the AA and AG alleles of rs1801275 (ORadj = 8.45 (95% CI, 1.57 to 45.44), P = 0.01, and ORadj = 3.57 (95% CI, 1.18 to 10.76), P = 0.02, respectively) and in the presence of AA allele of rs1805010 (ORadj = 4.52 (95% CI, 1.20 to 17.03), P = 0.03). No significant association was found between IL4R and radiographic erosions or disease susceptibility, although our statistical power was limited by relatively small numbers of cases and controls.
Conclusions
We found that IL4R SNPs, rs1801275 and rs1805010, are associated with rheumatoid nodules in autoantibody-positive African-American RA patients with at least one HLA-DRB1 allele encoding the SE. These findings highlight the need for analysis of genetic factors associated with clinical RA phenotypes in different racial/ethnic populations.
doi:10.1186/ar2994
PMCID: PMC2911851  PMID: 20444266
11.  Ectopic Lymphoid Structures Support Ongoing Production of Class-Switched Autoantibodies in Rheumatoid Synovium 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(1):e1.
Background
Follicular structures resembling germinal centres (GCs) that are characterized by follicular dendritic cell (FDC) networks have long been recognized in chronically inflamed tissues in autoimmune diseases, including the synovium of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, it is debated whether these ectopic structures promote autoimmunity and chronic inflammation driving the production of pathogenic autoantibodies. Anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies (ACPA) are highly specific markers of RA, predict a poor prognosis, and have been suggested to be pathogenic. Therefore, the main study objectives were to determine whether ectopic lymphoid structures in RA synovium: (i) express activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), the enzyme required for somatic hypermutation and class-switch recombination (CSR) of Ig genes; (ii) support ongoing CSR and ACPA production; and (iii) remain functional in a RA/severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) chimera model devoid of new immune cell influx into the synovium.
Methods and Findings
Using immunohistochemistry (IHC) and quantitative Taqman real-time PCR (QT-PCR) in synovial tissue from 55 patients with RA, we demonstrated that FDC+ structures invariably expressed AID with a distribution resembling secondary lymphoid organs. Further, AID+/CD21+ follicular structures were surrounded by ACPA+/CD138+ plasma cells, as demonstrated by immune reactivity to citrullinated fibrinogen. Moreover, we identified a novel subset of synovial AID+/CD20+ B cells outside GCs resembling interfollicular large B cells. In order to gain direct functional evidence that AID+ structures support CSR and in situ manufacturing of class-switched ACPA, 34 SCID mice were transplanted with RA synovium and humanely killed at 4 wk for harvesting of transplants and sera. Persistent expression of AID and Iγ-Cμ circular transcripts (identifying ongoing IgM-IgG class-switching) was observed in synovial grafts expressing FDCs/CD21L. Furthermore, synovial mRNA levels of AID were closely associated with circulating human IgG ACPA in mouse sera. Finally, the survival and proliferation of functional B cell niches was associated with persistent overexpression of genes regulating ectopic lymphoneogenesis.
Conclusions
Our demonstration that FDC+ follicular units invariably express AID and are surrounded by ACPA-producing plasma cells provides strong evidence that ectopic lymphoid structures in the RA synovium are functional and support autoantibody production. This concept is further confirmed by evidence of sustained AID expression, B cell proliferation, ongoing CSR, and production of human IgG ACPA from GC+ synovial tissue transplanted into SCID mice, independently of new B cell influx from the systemic circulation. These data identify AID as a potential therapeutic target in RA and suggest that survival of functional synovial B cell niches may profoundly influence chronic inflammation, autoimmunity, and response to B cell–depleting therapies.
Costantino Pitzalis and colleagues show that lymphoid structures in synovial tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis support production of anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies, which continues following transplantation into SCID mice.
Editors' Summary
Background.
More than 1 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis, an “autoimmune” condition that affects the joints. Normally, the immune system provides protection against infection by responding to foreign antigens (molecules that are unique to invading organisms) while ignoring self-antigens present in the body's own tissues. In autoimmune diseases, this ability to discriminate between self and non-self fails for unknown reasons and the immune system begins to attack human tissues. In rheumatoid arthritis, the lining of the joints (the synovium) is attacked, it becomes inflamed and thickened, and chemicals are released that damage all the tissues in the joint. Eventually, the joint may become so scarred that movement is no longer possible. Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts in the small joints in the hands and feet, but larger joints and other tissues (including the heart and blood vessels) can be affected. Its symptoms, which tend to fluctuate, include early morning joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, and feeling generally unwell. Although the disease is not always easy to diagnose, the immune systems of many people with rheumatoid arthritis make “anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies” (ACPA). These “autoantibodies” (which some experts believe can contribute to the joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis) recognize self-proteins that contain the unusual amino acid citrulline, and their detection on blood tests can help make the diagnosis. Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, the recently developed biologic drugs, often used together with the more traditional disease-modifying therapies, are able to halt its progression by specifically blocking the chemicals that cause joint damage. Painkillers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce its symptoms, and badly damaged joints can sometimes be surgically replaced.
Why Was This Study Done?
Before scientists can develop a cure for rheumatoid arthritis, they need to know how and why autoantibodies are made that attack the joints in this common and disabling disease. B cells, the immune system cells that make antibodies, mature in structures known as “germinal centers” in the spleen and lymph nodes. In the germinal centers, immature B cells are exposed to antigens and undergo two genetic processes called “somatic hypermutation” and “class-switch recombination” that ensure that each B cell makes an antibody that sticks as tightly as possible to just one antigen. The B cells then multiply and enter the bloodstream where they help to deal with infections. Interestingly, the inflamed synovium of many patients with rheumatoid arthritis contains structures that resemble germinal centers. Could these ectopic (misplaced) lymphoid structures, which are characterized by networks of immune system cells called follicular dendritic cells (FDCs), promote autoimmunity and long-term inflammation by driving the production of autoantibodies within the joint itself? In this study, the researchers investigate this possibility.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected synovial tissue from 55 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and used two approaches, called immunohistochemistry and real-time PCR, to investigate whether FDC-containing structures in synovium expressed an enzyme called activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID), which is needed for both somatic hypermutation and class-switch recombination. All the FDC-containing structures that the researchers found in their samples expressed AID. Furthermore, these AID-containing structures were surrounded by mature B cells making ACPAs. To test whether these B cells were derived from AID-expressing cells resident in the synovium rather than ACPA-expressing immune system cells coming into the synovium from elsewhere in the body, the researchers transplanted synovium from patients with rheumatoid arthritis under the skin of a special sort of mouse that largely lacks its own immune system. Four weeks later, the researchers found that the transplanted human lymphoid tissue was still making AID, that the level of AID expression correlated with the amount of human ACPA in the blood of the mice, and that the B cells in the transplant were proliferating.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the ectopic lymphoid structures present in the synovium of some patients with rheumatoid arthritis are functional and are able to make ACPA. Because ACPA may be responsible for joint damage, the survival of these structures could, therefore, be involved in the development and progression of rheumatoid arthritis. More experiments are needed to confirm this idea, but these findings may explain why drugs that effectively clear B cells from the bloodstream do not always produce a marked clinical improvement in rheumatoid arthritis. Finally, they suggest that AID might provide a new target for the development of drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0060001.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Rene Toes and Tom Huizinga
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a page on rheumatoid arthritis (in English and Spanish). MedlinePlus provides links to other information on rheumatoid arthritis (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices information service has detailed information on rheumatoid arthritis
The US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases provides Fast Facts, an easy to read publication for the public, and a more detailed Handbook on rheumatoid arthritis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an overview on rheumatoid arthritis that includes statistics about this disease and its impact on daily life
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0060001
PMCID: PMC2621263  PMID: 19143467
12.  Autoantibodies predicting the outcome of rheumatoid arthritis: evaluation in two subsets of patients according to severity of radiographic damage 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1997;56(11):682-685.
OBJECTIVE—Autoantibodies such as rheumatoid factor (RF), antikeratin antibodies (AKA), antiperinuclear factor (APF), and anti-RA 33 antibodies are considered of value for the diagnosis of RA. The purpose of this study was to evaluate these autoantibodies as predictors of severe radiographic damage in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). 
PATIENTS AND METHODS—Eighty six patients with RA (70 women, 16 men) fulfilling 1987 ACR criteria were selected from a cohort of 469 patients followed up since the first year of RA onset because they could be divided in two groups according to the severity of the radiographic damage. These 86 patients had a mean (SD) disease duration of eight (four) years: 43 patients had severe radiographic damage (Larsen score ⩾2) and 43 had limited radiographic damage (Larsen score < 2). The two groups were matched by disease duration and sex. The following autoantibodies were looked for: RF, ANA, AKA, APF, and anti-RA 33 antibodies. In addition, HLA class II DR β alleles and standard inflammatory parameters (erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C reactive protein) were determined.
RESULTS—Patients with severe radiographic damage differed from those with limited radiographic damage in that they had higher RF (p=0.01), APF (p<0.02), and AKA (p=0.001) titres. Stepwise regression analysis was done to calculate the odds ratios (OR) for each clinical and laboratory variable; only presence of cutaneous nodules (OR: 14.9; 95% CI: 7, 128), HLA DRB1*04 or DRB1*01 (OR: 7.53; 95% CI: 1.32, 42.9), AKA (OR: 3.11; 95%, CI: 0.58, 16.8 ), a high erthrocyte sedimentation rate (OR: 2.66; 95% CI: 0.60, 11.9), and a high C reactive protein value (OR: 7.4; 95% CI : 1.43, 38.1) were predictive of severe radiographic damage.
CONCLUSION—These data suggest that the risk of severe radiographic damage in RA patients is higher when cutaneous nodules, HLA DRB1*04 or DRB1*01, and/or AKA are present. The other autoantibodies of diagnostic significance are of little help for predicting joint destruction.


PMCID: PMC1752284  PMID: 9462172
13.  Rationale and design of The Delphi Trial – I(RCT)2: international randomized clinical trial of rheumatoid craniocervical treatment, an intervention-prognostic trial comparing 'early' surgery with conservative treatment [ISRCTN65076841] 
Background
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease, which affects 1% of the population. Hands and feet are most commonly involved followed by the cervical spine. The spinal column consists of vertebrae stabilized by an intricate network of ligaments. Especially in the upper cervical spine, rheumatoid arthritis can cause degeneration of these ligaments, causing laxity, instability and subluxation of the vertebral bodies. Subsequent compression of the spinal cord and medulla oblongata can cause severe neurological deficits and even sudden death. Once neurological deficits occur, progression is inevitable although the rapidity of progression is highly variable. The first signs and symptoms are pain at the back of the head caused by compression of the major occipital nerve, followed by loss of strength of arms and legs. The severity of the subluxation can be observed with radiological investigations (MRI, CT) with a high sensitivity.
The authors have sent a Delphi Questionnaire about the current treatment strategies of craniocervical involvement by rheumatoid arthritis to an international forum of expert rheumatologists and surgeons. The timing of surgery in patients with radiographic instability without evidence of neurological deficit is an area of considerable controversy. If signs and symptoms of myelopathy are present there is little chance of recovery to normal levels after surgery.
Design
In this international multicenter randomized clinical trial, early surgical atlantoaxial fixation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and radiological abnormalities without neurological deficits will be compared with prolonged conservative treatment. The main research question is whether early surgery can prevent radiological and neurological progression. A cost-effectivity analysis will be performed. 250 patients are needed to answer the research question.
Discussion
Early surgery could prevent serious neurological deficits, but may have peri-operative morbidity and loss of rotation of the head and neck. The objective of this study is to identify the best timing of surgery for patients at risk for the development of neurological signs and symptoms.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-7-14
PMCID: PMC1420300  PMID: 16483360
14.  Evolution of radiographic joint damage in rituximab-treated versus TNF-treated rheumatoid arthritis cases with inadequate response to TNF antagonists 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;71(10):1680-1685.
Background
Observational studies have suggested that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who experience inadequate response to anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) agents respond more favourably to rituximab (RTX) than to an alternative anti-TNF agent. However, the relative effectiveness of these agents on long-term outcomes, particularly in radiographic damage, remains unclear.
Objective
To compare the effectiveness of RTX against anti-TNF agents in preventing joint damage in patients with RA who have experienced inadequate response to at least one prior anti-TNF agent.
Methods
This is a prospective cohort study within the Swiss registry of patients with RA who discontinued at least one anti-TNF agent and subsequently received either RTX or an alternative anti-TNF agent. The primary outcome, progression of radiographic joint erosions (Ratingen erosion score)over time, and the secondary outcome, functional disability (Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index), were analysed using regression models for longitudinal data and adjusted for potential confounders.
Results
Of the 371 patients included, 104 received RTX and 267 received an alternative anti-TNF agent. During the 2.6-year median follow-up period, the rates of Ratingen erosion score progression were similar between patients taking RTX and patients taking an alternative anti-TNF agent (p=0.67). The evolution of the Health Assessment Questionnaire score was statistically significantly better in the RTX group (p=0.016), but the magnitude of the effect was probably not clinically relevant.
Conclusion
This observational study suggests that RTX is as effective as an alternative anti-TNF agent in preventing erosions in patients with RA who have previously experienced inadequate response to anti-TNF agents.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2011-201016
PMCID: PMC3500530  PMID: 22419773
15.  Comparison of Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F Versus Sulfasalazine in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Annals of internal medicine  2009;151(4):229-W51.
Background
Extracts of the medicinal plant Tripterygium wilfordii Hook F (TwHF) have been used in China for centuries to treat a spectrum of inflammatory diseases.
Objective
To compare the benefits and side effects of TwHF extract with those of sulfasalazine for the treatment of active rheumatoid arthritis.
Design
Randomized, controlled trial. A computer-generated code with random, permuted blocks was used to assign treatment.
Setting
2 U.S. academic centers (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, and University of Texas, Dallas, Texas) and 9 rheumatology subspecialty clinics (in Dallas and Austin, Texas; Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Arlington, Virginia; Duncanville, Pennsylvania; Wheaton and Greenbelt, Maryland; and Lansing, Michigan).
Patients
121 patients with active rheumatoid arthritis and 6 or more painful and swollen joints.
Intervention
TwHF extract, 60 mg 3 times daily, or sulfasalazine, 1 g twice daily. Patients could continue stable doses of oral prednisone or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs but had to stop taking disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs at least 28 days before randomization.
Measurements
The primary outcome was the rate of achievement of 20% improvement in the American College of Rheumatology criteria (ACR 20) at 24 weeks. Secondary end points were safety; radiographic scores of joint damage; and serum levels of interleukin-6, cholesterol, cortisol, and adrenocorticotropic hormone.
Results
Outcome data were available for only 62 patients at 24 weeks. In a mixed-model analysis that imputed data for patients who dropped out, 65.0% (95% CI, 51.6% to 76.9%) of the TwHF group and 32.8% (CI, 21.3% to 46.0%) of the sulfasalazine group met the ACR 20 response criteria (P = 0.001). Patients receiving TwHF also had significantly higher response rates for ACR 50 and ACR 70 in mixed-model analyses. Analyses of only completers showed similar significant differences between the treatment groups. Significant improvement was demonstrated in all individual components of the ACR response, including the Health Assessment Questionnaire disability score. Interleukin-6 levels rapidly and significantly decreased in the TwHF group. Although not statistically significant, radiographic progression was lower in the TwHF group. The frequency of adverse events was similar in both groups.
Limitations
Only 62% and 41% of patients continued receiving TwHF extract and sulfasalazine, respectively, during the 24 weeks of the study. Long-term outcome data were not collected on participants who discontinued treatment.
Conclusion
In patients who continued treatment for 24 weeks and could also use stable oral prednisone and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, attainment of the ACR 20 response criteria was significantly greater with TwHF extract than with sulfasalazine.
Primary Funding Source
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
PMCID: PMC2938780  PMID: 19687490
16.  Anaemia may add information to standardised disease activity assessment to predict radiographic damage in rheumatoid arthritis: a prospective cohort study 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;73(4):691-696.
Objective
Anaemia in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is prototypical of the chronic disease type and is often neglected in clinical practice. We studied anaemia in relation to disease activity, medications and radiographic progression.
Methods
Data were collected between 1996 and 2007 over a mean follow-up of 2.2 years. Anaemia was defined according to WHO (♀ haemoglobin<12 g/dl, ♂: haemoglobin<13 g/dl), or alternative criteria. Anaemia prevalence was studied in relation to disease parameters and pharmacological therapy. Radiographic progression was analysed in 9731 radiograph sets from 2681 patients in crude longitudinal regression models and after adjusting for potential confounding factors, including the clinical disease activity score with the 28-joint count for tender and swollen joints and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28ESR) or the clinical disease activity index (cDAI), synthetic antirheumatic drugs and antitumour necrosis factor (TNF) therapy.
Results
Anaemia prevalence decreased from more than 24% in years before 2001 to 15% in 2007. Erosions progressed significantly faster in patients with anaemia (p<0.001). Adjusted models showed these effects independently of clinical disease activity and other indicators of disease severity. Radiographic damage progression rates were increasing with severity of anaemia, suggesting a ‘dose-response effect’. The effect of anaemia on damage progression was maintained in subgroups of patients treated with TNF blockade or corticosteroids, and without non-selective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Conclusions
Anaemia in RA appears to capture disease processes that remain unmeasured by established disease activity measures in patients with or without TNF blockade, and may help to identify patients with more rapid erosive disease.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202709
PMCID: PMC3963599  PMID: 23505235
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Disease Activity; Anti-TNF
17.  Effect of different imputation approaches on the evaluation of radiographic progression in patients with psoriatic arthritis: results of the RAPID-PsA 24-week phase III double-blind randomised placebo-controlled study of certolizumab pegol 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;73(1):233-237.
Objectives
To report the effect of different imputation methodologies on the assessment of radiographic progression in clinical trials.
Methods
The 216-week RAPID-psoriatic arthritis (PsA) (NCT01087788) trial of certolizumab pegol (CZP) in patients with active PsA was double-blind and placebo-controlled until week 24. A primary end point was change from baseline in modified Total Sharp Score(s) (mTSS). Prespecified imputation methodology in patients with fewer than two analysable mTSS used minimum observed baseline score for missing baseline values and maximum observed week 24 score for missing week 24 values. Post hoc analyses used alternative methods of imputation in patients with fewer than two analysable mTSS. mTSS non-progressors were defined as patients with ≤0 (predefined) or ≤0.5 (post hoc) change in mTSS from baseline to week 24. Baseline mTSS and C-reactive protein levels as predictors of radiographic progression were investigated.
Results
409 patients were randomised. Baseline demographics were similar between groups. Prespecified imputation analysis inappropriately overestimated radiographic progression (least squares mean placebo, 28.9; CZP, 18.3; p≥0.05). Multiple post hoc analyses demonstrated that CZP inhibited radiographic progression compared with placebo, particularly in patients with high baseline mTSS and C-reactive protein levels. mTSS non-progression rate was higher in CZP than placebo groups in all analyses.
Conclusions
Inappropriate prespecified imputation methodology resulted in an unrealistic assessment of progression in all arms. Methodologies for imputing missing radiographic data can greatly affect assessment and reporting of mTSS progression.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-203697
PMCID: PMC3888591  PMID: 23942869
Anti-TNF; Psoriatic Arthritis; Outcomes research
18.  Persistence with Statins and Onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Population-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(9):e1000336.
In a retrospective cohort study, Gabriel Chodick and colleagues find a significant association between persistence with statin therapy and reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, but only a modest decrease in risk of osteoarthritis.
Background
The beneficial effects of statins in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have been suggested previously, but it is unclear whether statins may prevent its development. The aim of this retrospective cohort study was to explore whether persistent use of statins is associated with onset of RA.
Methods and Findings
The computerized medical databases of a large health organization in Israel were used to identify diagnosed RA cases among adults who began statin therapy between 1998 and 2007. Persistence with statins was assessed by calculating the mean proportion of follow-up days covered (PDC) with statins for every study participant. To assess the possible effects of healthy user bias, we also examined the risk of osteoarthritis (OA), a common degenerative joint disease that is unlikely to be affected by use of statins.
A total of 211,627 and 193,770 individuals were eligible for the RA and OA cohort analyses, respectively. During the study follow-up period, there were 2,578 incident RA cases (3.07 per 1,000 person-years) and 17,878 incident OA cases (24.34 per 1,000 person-years). The crude incidence density rate of RA among nonpersistent patients (PDC level of <20%) was 51% higher (3.89 per 1,000 person-years) compared to highly persistent patients who were covered with statins for at least 80% of the follow-up period. After adjustment for potential confounders, highly persistent patients had a hazard ratio of 0.58 (95% confidence interval 0.52–0.65) for RA compared with nonpersistent patients. Larger differences were observed in younger patients and in patients initiating treatment with high efficacy statins. In the OA cohort analysis, high persistence with statins was associated only with a modest decrement in risk ratio (hazard ratio = 0.85; 0.81–0.88) compared to nonadherent patients.
Conclusions
The present study demonstrates an association between persistence with statin therapy and reduced risk of developing RA. The relationship between continuation of statin use and OA onset was weak and limited to patients with short-term follow-up.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The role of statins in the management of diseases that have an inflammatory component is unclear. There is some evidence that statins may have anti-inflammatory and immunumodulatory properties, demonstrated by reducing the level of C-reactive protein that may play an important role in chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis—a chronic condition that is a major cause of disability. Some small studies have suggested a modest effect of statins in decreasing disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but a recent larger study involving over 30,000 patients with rheumatoid arthritis showed no beneficial effect. Furthermore, it has been suggested that statins may have a role in the primary prevention of rheumatoid arthritis, but so far there has been no solid evidence base to support this hypothesis. Before statins can potentially be included in the treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis, or possibly prescribed for the prevention of this condition, there needs to be a much stronger evidence base, such as larger studies with longer follow-up periods, which clearly demonstrates any significant clinical benefits of statin use.
Why Was This Study Done?
This large study (more than 200,000 patients) with a long follow-up period (average of 10 years) was conducted to discover whether there was any kind of association between persistent use of statins and the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study among the members of Maccabi Healthcare Services (a health maintenance organization [HMO]) in Israel, which has 1.8-million enrollees and covers every section of the Israeli population, to identify statin users who were at least 18 years of age and did not have RA or a related disease at study entry. The cohort covered the period 1998–2007 and included members who were continuously enrolled in the HMO from 1995 to 1998. The researchers then analyzed the incidence of newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis, recording the date of first diagnostic codes (International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision [ICD-9]) associated with rheumatoid arthritis during the study follow-up period. To assess any potential effects of “healthy adherer” bias (good adherence to medication in patients with a chronic illness may be more likely to lead to better health and improved survival), the researchers also examined any possible association between persistent statin use and the development of osteoarthritis, a common degenerative joint disease that is unlikely to be affected by statin use.
During the study follow-up period, there were 2,578 incident cases of rheumatoid arthritis and 17,878 incident cases of osteoarthritis. The crude incidence density rate of rheumatoid arthritis among patients who did not persistently take statins was 51% higher than that of patients who used statins for at least 80% of the follow-up period. Furthermore, patients who persistently used statins had a risk ratio of 0.58 for rheumatoid arthritis compared with patients who did not persistently use statins. In the osteoarthritis cohort analysis, high persistence with statin use was associated with a modest decrement in risk ratio (0.85) compared to patients who did not persist with statins.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study suggests that there is an association between persistence with statin therapy and reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Although the researchers took into account the possibility of healthy adherer bias (by comparing results with the osteoarthritis cohort), this study has other limitations, such as the retrospective design, and the nonrandomization of statin use, which could affect the interpretation of the results. However, the observed associations were greater than those that would be expected from methodological biases alone. Larger, systematic, controlled, prospective studies with high efficacy statins, particularly in younger adults who are at increased risk for rheumatoid arthritis, are needed to confirm these findings and to clarify the exact nature of the biological relationship between adherence to statin therapy and the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000336.
Arthritis Research UK provides a wide range of information on arthritis research
The American College of Rheumatology provides information on rheumatology research
Patient information on rheumatoid arthritis is available at Patient UK
Extensive information about statins is available at statin answers
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000336
PMCID: PMC2935457  PMID: 20838658
19.  Evidence for the Selective Reporting of Analyses and Discrepancies in Clinical Trials: A Systematic Review of Cohort Studies of Clinical Trials 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(6):e1001666.
In a systematic review of cohort studies, Kerry Dwan and colleagues examine the evidence for selective reporting and discrepancies in analyses between journal publications and other documents for clinical trials.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Most publications about selective reporting in clinical trials have focussed on outcomes. However, selective reporting of analyses for a given outcome may also affect the validity of findings. If analyses are selected on the basis of the results, reporting bias may occur. The aims of this study were to review and summarise the evidence from empirical cohort studies that assessed discrepant or selective reporting of analyses in randomised controlled trials (RCTs).
Methods and Findings
A systematic review was conducted and included cohort studies that assessed any aspect of the reporting of analyses of RCTs by comparing different trial documents, e.g., protocol compared to trial report, or different sections within a trial publication. The Cochrane Methodology Register, Medline (Ovid), PsycInfo (Ovid), and PubMed were searched on 5 February 2014. Two authors independently selected studies, performed data extraction, and assessed the methodological quality of the eligible studies. Twenty-two studies (containing 3,140 RCTs) published between 2000 and 2013 were included. Twenty-two studies reported on discrepancies between information given in different sources. Discrepancies were found in statistical analyses (eight studies), composite outcomes (one study), the handling of missing data (three studies), unadjusted versus adjusted analyses (three studies), handling of continuous data (three studies), and subgroup analyses (12 studies). Discrepancy rates varied, ranging from 7% (3/42) to 88% (7/8) in statistical analyses, 46% (36/79) to 82% (23/28) in adjusted versus unadjusted analyses, and 61% (11/18) to 100% (25/25) in subgroup analyses. This review is limited in that none of the included studies investigated the evidence for bias resulting from selective reporting of analyses. It was not possible to combine studies to provide overall summary estimates, and so the results of studies are discussed narratively.
Conclusions
Discrepancies in analyses between publications and other study documentation were common, but reasons for these discrepancies were not discussed in the trial reports. To ensure transparency, protocols and statistical analysis plans need to be published, and investigators should adhere to these or explain discrepancies.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In the past, clinicians relied on their own experience when choosing the best treatment for their patients. Nowadays, they turn to evidence-based medicine—the systematic review and appraisal of trials, studies that investigate the benefits and harms of medical treatments in patients. However, evidence-based medicine can guide clinicians only if all the results from clinical trials are published in an unbiased and timely manner. Unfortunately, the results of trials in which a new drug performs better than existing drugs are more likely to be published than those in which the new drug performs badly or has unwanted side effects (publication bias). Moreover, trial outcomes that support the use of a new treatment are more likely to be published than those that do not support its use (outcome reporting bias). Recent initiatives—such as making registration of clinical trials in a trial registry (for example, ClinicalTrials.gov) a prerequisite for publication in medical journals—aim to prevent these biases, which pose a threat to informed medical decision-making.
Why Was This Study Done?
Selective reporting of analyses of outcomes may also affect the validity of clinical trial findings. Sometimes, for example, a trial publication will include a per protocol analysis (which considers only the outcomes of patients who received their assigned treatment) rather than a pre-planned intention-to-treat analysis (which considers the outcomes of all the patients regardless of whether they received their assigned treatment). If the decision to publish the per protocol analysis is based on the results of this analysis being more favorable than those of the intention-to-treat analysis (which more closely resembles “real” life), then “analysis reporting bias” has occurred. In this systematic review, the researchers investigate the selective reporting of analyses and discrepancies in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) by reviewing published studies that assessed selective reporting of analyses in groups (cohorts) of RCTs and discrepancies in analyses of RCTs between different sources (for example, between the protocol in a trial registry and the journal publication) or different sections of a source. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 22 cohort studies (containing 3,140 RCTs) that were eligible for inclusion in their systematic review. All of these studies reported on discrepancies between the information provided by the RCTs in different places, but none investigated the evidence for analysis reporting bias. Several of the cohort studies reported, for example, that there were discrepancies in the statistical analyses included in the different documents associated with the RCTs included in their analysis. Other types of discrepancies reported by the cohort studies included discrepancies in the reporting of composite outcomes (an outcome in which multiple end points are combined) and in the reporting of subgroup analyses (investigations of outcomes in subgroups of patients that should be predefined in the trial protocol to avoid bias). Discrepancy rates varied among the RCTs according to the types of analyses and cohort studies considered. Thus, whereas in one cohort study discrepancies were present in the statistical test used for the analysis of the primary outcome in only 7% of the included studies, they were present in the subgroup analyses of all the included studies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that discrepancies in analyses between publications and other study documents such as protocols in trial registries are common. The reasons for these discrepancies in analyses were not discussed in trial reports but may be the result of reporting bias, errors, or legitimate departures from a pre-specified protocol. For example, a statistical analysis that is not specified in the trial protocol may sometimes appear in a publication because the journal requested its inclusion as a condition of publication. The researchers suggest that it may be impossible for systematic reviewers to distinguish between these possibilities simply by looking at the source documentation. Instead, they suggest, it may be necessary for reviewers to contact the trial authors. However, to make selective reporting of analyses more easily detectable, they suggest that protocols and analysis plans should be published and that investigators should be required to stick to these plans or explain any discrepancies when they publish their trial results. Together with other initiatives, this approach should help improve the quality of evidence-based medicine and, as a result, the treatment of patients.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001666.
Wikipedia has pages on evidence-based medicine, on systematic reviews, and on publication bias (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
ClinicalTrials.gov provides information about the US National Institutes of Health clinical trial registry, including background information about clinical trials
The Cochrane Collaboration is a global independent network of health practitioners, researchers, patient advocates, and others that aims to promote evidence-informed health decision-making by producing high-quality, relevant, accessible systematic reviews and other synthesized research evidence; the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions describes the preparation of systematic reviews in detail
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doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001666
PMCID: PMC4068996  PMID: 24959719
20.  Systematic Review of Tocilizumab for Rheumatoid Arthritis: A New Biologic targeting the Interleukin-6 Receptor 
Clinical therapeutics  2012;34(4):788-802.e3.
Objective
To summarize the efficacy and safety profile of Tocilizumab (TCZ), a humanized monoclonal antibody against interleukin-6 (IL-6), approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods
A systematic literature review was conducted to identify English language articles within Pubmed and the Cochrane Library from January 1989 to August 2011 reporting results from phase III TCZ double-blinded randomized controlled trials (RCT), non-controlled clinical trials and open-label extensions with duration ≥ 6 months. Study outcomes had to include at least one of the following: American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 20, 50, 70; tender/swollen joint count, HAQ disability, radiographic outcomes and drug persistence. Phase II RCTs were included only if they contained relevant information not available in phase III RCTs. To review TCZ pharmacology, relevant studies were selected to evaluate pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.
Results
Ten published clinical trials (7 phase 3, 3 phase 2) for TCZ were retrieved (7,833 articles initially identified) and 31 from Cochrane library. Compared to MTX monotherapy, TCZ 8 mg/Kg monotherapy had higher rates of ACR20 (p<0.001), ACR50 (p=0.002) and ACR70 (p<0.001) scores at week 24. TCZ 8mg/Kg IV + oral MTX had a higher ACR20 response rate than placebo + oral MTX in patients with RA that failed to respond to MTX or anti-TNF therapy (p<0.001). Patients on TCZ 8mg/Kg had less radiographic progression on Sharp-Genant Score, (85% had no progression) than the control group (67% had no progression, p<0.001). The rate of serious infections was 4.7 events /100 patient years of exposure in the TCZ groups. A greater frequency of neutropenia, thrombocytropenia, hyperlipidemia, and transaminitis was observed with TCZ compared to placebo.
Conclusion
The short term efficacy and safety profile of TCZ is promising. Additional long term safety data are needed to better characterize the risk-benefit profile of this agent.
doi:10.1016/j.clinthera.2012.02.014
PMCID: PMC3805022  PMID: 22444783
tocilizumab; rheumatoid arthritis; IL-6; MRA; juvenile idiopathic arthritis
21.  Association of Interleukin-6 and Interleukin-10 Genotypes With Radiographic Damage in Rheumatoid Arthritis Is Dependent on Autoantibody Status 
Arthritis and Rheumatism  2007;56(8):2549-2556.
Objective
Recent evidence has highlighted a major genetic contribution to radiographic damage in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The objective of this study was to determine whether genetic variants in the loci for interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL-6, IL-10, protein tyrosine phosphatase N22 (PTPN22), and selenoprotein S are associated with radiographic damage.
Methods
Modified Larsen scores of radiographic damage were determined in a cross-sectional population of patients with RA (n = 964). Rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti–cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) were also assayed. The Kruskal-Wallis nonparametric test was used to compare median radiographic damage scores across genotype groups, followed by the Cuzick nonparametric test for trend to assess gene-dose effects.
Results
An allele-dose association of IL-6 −174G with increasing radiographic damage was present (P = 0.005), but only in patients who were RF positive (P = 0.004) or anti-CCP positive (P = 0.01). Patients with the IL-10 −592CC genotype had more extensive radiographic damage than did those with the AC or AA genotype (P = 0.006), but this was observed only among patients who were RF negative (P = 0.002) or anti-CCP negative (P = 0.002). However, RF status and anti-CCP status were not associated with the IL-6 or IL-10 genotype. No other genetic associations were detected, apart from a marginal association of PTPN22 +1858T with increased radiographic damage.
Conclusion
The reported associations of IL-6 −174G with high IL-6 production and IL-10 −592 with low IL-10 production and our own results support a role of genetically determined dysregulated cytokine production in disease severity. The lack of association of these genotypes with RF and anti-CCP antibody status suggests that they act downstream of autoantibody production. We conclude that IL-6 and IL-10 genotypes may be useful in predicting disease severity in autoantibody-positive and autoantibody-negative patients, respectively.
doi:10.1002/art.22814
PMCID: PMC2435416  PMID: 17665434
22.  Certolizumab pegol in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: a comprehensive review of its clinical efficacy and safety 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2010;50(2):261-270.
Biological agents, including TNF inhibitors, have revolutionized the treatment of RA in recent years. Certolizumab pegol (CZP) is a novel pegylated anti-TNF approved for the treatment of adult patients with moderately to severely active RA. This article provides an overview of three published clinical trials of CZP in RA in patients with active disease who have shown an inadequate response to DMARDs, including MTX: RA prevention of structural damage (RAPID) 1 and 2, which evaluated the efficacy and safety of CZP added to MTX when dosed every 2 weeks, and efficacy and safety of CZP – 4 weekly dosage in rheumatoid arthritis (FAST4WARD), which evaluated CZP monotherapy when dosed every 4 weeks. In the trials, CZP plus MTX or as monotherapy significantly improved the signs and symptoms of RA and RA disease activity, and CZP plus MTX significantly inhibited the progression of radiographic joint damage as early as Week 16 of the treatment. In addition, CZP treatment significantly improved patient-reported outcome measures, providing significant reductions in pain and fatigue and improvements in physical function as early as Week 1 of treatment; improvements in health-related quality of life were evident at the first assessment at Week 12. CZP treatment improved productivity at work, significantly reducing the number of days of missed work as well as the number of days with reduced productivity, and also increased productivity within the home and improved participation in family, social and leisure activities. CZP was generally well tolerated when used either as monotherapy or added to MTX; most adverse events were mild or moderate. Taken together, the results of these trials suggest that CZP is an effective new option for the treatment of RA.
doi:10.1093/rheumatology/keq285
PMCID: PMC3021948  PMID: 20871129
Certolizumab pegol; Methotrexate; Monotherapy; Rheumatoid arthritis; TNF-α inhibitor
23.  Potential Role of Decoy B7-H4 in the Pathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Mouse Model Informed by Clinical Data 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(10):e1000166.
Finding an association between soluble B7-H4 and rheumatoid arthritis severity, Lieping Chen and colleagues use a mouse model to show that the soluble form blocks the inhibitory function of cell-surface B7-H4.
Background
A pathogenic hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is persistent inflammatory responses in target tissues and organs. Immune responses mediated by T cells and autoantibodies are known to play pivotal roles. A possible interpretation for this observation is a loss of negative regulation of autoimmune responses. Here we sought to investigate whether B7-H4, a cell surface inhibitory molecule of the B7-CD28 signaling pathway, may play a role in the pathogenesis of RA.
Methods and Findings
In a cross-sectional study of a clinical convenience sample using monoclonal antibodies against human B7-H4 molecules, we detected high levels of the soluble form of B7-H4 (sH4) in the sera of 65% of patients with RA (n = 68) versus only 13% of healthy donors (n = 24). Elevated sH4 was associated with an increased disease severity score (DAS28) in a cross-sectional analysis. In a mouse model of RA, transgenic expression of sH4 or genetic deletion of B7-H4 accelerated the progression of collagen-induced arthritis, accompanied by enhanced T and B cell–mediated autoimmune responses as well as increased activity of neutrophils. Expression in vivo of an agonist, a B7-H4-immunoglobulin Fc fusion protein, profoundly suppressed disease progression in the mouse model.
Conclusions
Our findings in mice indicate that sH4 acts as a decoy molecule to block the inhibitory functions of cell-surface B7-H4, leading to exacerbation of collagen-induced arthritis. If the preliminary correlation between sH4 levels and disease activity in patients with RA can be confirmed to reflect a similar mechanism, these findings suggest a novel target for treatment approaches.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic disease caused by abnormal immune responses. In RA, the body's own immune system mainly attacks the joints, causing inflammation in their lining, but can affect other tissues and organs in the body. About 1% of the population in developed countries suffer from RA, and it can result in long-term joint damage, causing significant illness and disability. Sufferers have chronic pain, loss of function of the joint, and loss of mobility. The cause of RA is unknown and there is no known cure. However, neutrophils (an immune cell important for inflammation) are thought to contribute to the initiation of RA. Understanding the primary mechanisms behind the development of RA, and where the body's immune system goes wrong, is fundamental not only to find new treatments for the disease but also to aid diagnosis to help patients get treatment to help control their often debilitating symptoms.
Why Was the Study Done?
Regulation of the immune system is necessary to prevent overactivity. Interruptions to the normal signals that moderate the immune response can lead to destruction of normal tissues. Previous studies have shown that the B7 family of proteins, which interact with CD28 signaling proteins on the surface of immune cells, are important regulators of the immune response. B7 proteins have also been found to exist in soluble forms that have been implicated in the development of rheumatoid diseases, but their exact role is not well understood. In the current study, researchers examined a member of the B7 family, B7-H4, which normally acts as an inhibitor of the immune response, to find out whether this signaling molecule affects the immune response and has a role in the development of RA.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected blood from 68 patients with RA and 24 healthy volunteers, and measured levels of soluble B7-H4, also known as sH4. They found sH4 in blood from 65% of patients with RA, compared with only 13% of healthy people. The levels of sH4 were significantly higher in RA patients (96.1 ng/ml) compared to healthy people (<5 ng/ml). Moreover, the highest levels of sH4 were found in patients with the most severe forms of RA, as measured by a standard index score that includes general health, the number of swollen joints, and the amount of inflammation. The researchers then used a mouse model of RA to explore how sH4 might contribute to RA. First, they injected mice with plasmids (circular pieces of DNA that can be used to transfer genes into organisms) carrying the gene for sH4 and looked at how overexpression of sH4 affected the development of arthritis. They also looked at how deleting the B7-H4 gene in mice affected symptoms. Both overexpression of sH4 and deletion of B7-H4 caused inflammation in the mice; symptoms appeared earlier and were more severe. Furthermore, the effects of sH4 were shown to be dependent on neutrophils. Finally, the researchers successfully prevented the development of disease in mice by using a protein to mimic the normal signaling by B7-H4, which inhibits the immune response.
What Do these Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the signaling molecule B7-H4 may be involved in the development of RA. B7-H4 normally acts as an inhibitor of the immune response to suppress inflammation, but when its action is blocked the immune response is no longer suppressed, and an inappropriate and increased immune reaction occurs. sH4 is thought to act as a decoy that blocks binding of B7-H4 to its receptor, thereby preventing an inhibitory signal to the immune system. Overexpression of sH4 worsens the symptoms in the mouse model of RA. Intriguingly, high levels of sH4 were also present in RA patients and were associated with increased severity of disease. This study does not establish sH4 as a cause of RA but implicates sH4 as a cause in the progression of increased inflammation in this disease. Immune system signaling molecules have potential as novel targets for treatment of RA and other autoimmune disorders. However, further studies are needed to test whether sH4 has a direct role in the development of RA in humans.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000166.
MedlinePlus has a topic page on RA providing extensive information on symptoms and treatment for RA and access to related clinical trials and medical literature
The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (UK) is a patient-led charity to provide information, education, and support for people with RA
The Arthritis Foundation (US) is a national not-for-profit organization that supports public health education and research funding, and provides informational resources for people with arthritis http://www.arthritis.org/
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000166
PMCID: PMC2760136  PMID: 19841745
24.  Etanercept (Enbrel): update on therapeutic use 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2000;59(Suppl 1):i46-i49.
Tumour necrosis factor (TNF) is an important inflammatory disease mediator in a wide spectrum of articular diseases, including adult and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (RA, JRA). Etanercept (Enbrel), approved in the United States and in Europe for use in patients with RA and JRA, is an effective inhibitor of TNF that has been shown to provide rapid and sustained improvement in both of these diseases. Long term studies continue to show that etanercept controls signs and symptoms of RA and JRA with no change in rate or type of adverse event over time. To demonstrate that etanercept is effective as first line treatment for patients with early active RA who have not been previously treated with methotrexate, and to examine the effect of etanercept on radiographic progression, a double blind, placebo controlled study was recently conducted, comparing etanercept with methotrexate (median dose 20 mg per week). Both etanercept 25 mg twice weekly and rapidly escalated methotrexate were effective in reducing the signs and symptoms of RA, and etanercept was significantly better than methotrexate in slowing the rate of radiographic erosions. In patients with severe psoriatic arthritis (PsA), a double blind, placebo controlled study demonstrated that etanercept was also effective in reducing disease activity in PsA. Etanercept has been well tolerated in all of these clinical trials and offers an important new treatment option to patients with inflammatory articular diseases.


doi:10.1136/ard.59.suppl_1.i46
PMCID: PMC1766625  PMID: 11053088
25.  Radiographic scoring methods as outcome measures in rheumatoid arthritis: properties and advantages 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2001;60(9):817-827.
BACKGROUND—Use of scored radiographs as an outcome measure can help estimate the progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Radiographs not only provide permanent records with which to evaluate RA serially, but can also be randomised and blinded, a major advantage in clinical trials.
OBJECTIVES AND METHOD—Medline was searched for information about the principal methods of assessing joints affected by RA. Each technique was evaluated for its measurement properties, advantages, and limitations.
MAIN FINDINGS—The most commonly used methods are those devised by Sharp, Larsen, and van der Heijde/Sharp, and their variants. Methods based on the Sharp technique provide separate scores for erosion and for joint space narrowing. Larsen and variants, together with the Simple Erosion Narrowing Score (SENS) method, provide an overall score. Each method's measurement properties (feasibility, time consumption, etc) depend on the degree of detail it considers. Authors consistently recommend taking a posteroanterior view of hand and foot radiographs, and the use of trained raters. Intra- and interrater reliability values are generally higher than 0.70 (less often assessed by the intraclass correlation coefficient than the correlation coefficient). Sensitivity to change is calculated by several techniques (standardised response mean (SRM), adjusted SRM, minimal detectable change, smallest detectable difference). Most methods assessed with SRM reach a value of 0.80 or more.
CONCLUSION—Standardised procedures are available for performing and reading radiographs in RA. The choice of scoring method depends on the time and staff available, and the required degree of reliability and sensitivity to change.


PMCID: PMC1753828  PMID: 11502606

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