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1.  Time to achieve remission determines time to be in remission 
Introduction
Though remission is currently a treatment goal in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the number of patients who achieve and sustain remission in daily practice is still small. It is suggested that early remission will be associated with sustainability of remission. The aim was to study the association between time-to-remission and sustainability of remission in a cohort of early RA patients treated according to daily practice.
Methods
For this study, three-year follow-up data were used from the Nijmegen RA Inception Cohort of patients included between 1985 and 2005 (N = 753). Patients were included upon diagnosis (ACR criteria), were systematically evaluated at three-monthly visits and treated according to daily practice. Remission was defined according to the Disease Activity Score (DAS) <1.6 and the ACR remission criteria. Remission of at least 6 months duration was regarded as sustained remission. Predictors for time-to-remission were identified by Cox-regression analyses. The relation between time-to-remission and sustained remission was analyzed using longitudinal binary regression.
Results
N = 398 (52%) patients achieved remission with a median time-to-remission of 12 months. Male gender, younger age and low DAS at baseline were predictive to reach remission rapidly. There were n = 142 (36%) patients experiencing sustained remission, which was determined by a shorter time-to-remission only. The relationship between time-to-remission and sustained remission was described by a significant odds ratio (1.11) (1.10 to 1.12-95% CI) that was constant over the whole period 1985 to 2005. Results obtained with the ACR remission criteria were similar.
Conclusions
A shorter time-to-remission is related to sustainability of remission, supporting striving for early remission in patients with RA.
doi:10.1186/ar3027
PMCID: PMC2911884  PMID: 20487520
2.  Crohn's disease 
BMJ Clinical Evidence  2011;2011:0416.
Introduction
Crohn's disease is a chronic condition of the gastrointestinal tract. It is characterised by transmural, granulomatous inflammation that occurs in a discontinuous pattern, with a tendency to form fistulae. The cause is unknown but may depend on interactions between genetic predisposition, environmental triggers, and mucosal immunity.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of medical treatments to induce remission in adults with Crohn's disease? What are the effects of surgical interventions to induce and maintain remission in adults with small-bowel Crohn's disease? What are the effects of surgical interventions to induce remission in adults with colonic Crohn's disease? What are the effects of medical interventions to maintain remission in adults with Crohn's disease; and to maintain remission following surgery? What are the effects of lifestyle interventions to maintain remission in adults with Crohn's disease? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to December 2009 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 93 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: aminosalicylates, antibiotics, azathioprine/mercaptopurine, ciclosporin, corticosteroids (oral), enteral nutrition, fish oil, infliximab, methotrexate, probiotics, resection, segmental colectomy, smoking cessation, and strictureplasty.
Key Points
Crohn's disease is a chronic condition of the gastrointestinal tract. It is characterised by transmural, granulomatous inflammation that occurs in a discontinuous pattern, with a tendency to form fistulae.The cause is unknown but may depend on interactions between genetic predisposition, environmental triggers, and mucosal immunity.
First-line treatment to induce remission of acute disease is corticosteroids. Budesonide is generally recommended in mild to moderate ileocaecal disease because it is only slightly less effective in inducing remission than prednisolone and has a superior adverse-effect profile.Prednisolone or methylprednisolone are generally recommended for severe or more extensive disease because of their superior efficacy.
Azathioprine and mercaptopurine are effective in inducing remission and healing fistulae in Crohn's disease, provided that at least 17 weeks of treatment are given. Monitoring for myelosuppression is obligatory. Aminosalicylates (mesalazine, sulfasalazine) may reduce disease activity, but we don't know which regimen is best to induce remission. Methotrexate 25 mg weekly increases remission rates and has a corticosteroid-sparing effect. There is consensus that it is also effective for maintenance.Infliximab (a cytokine inhibitor) is effective in inducing and maintaining remission in Crohn's disease, but the long-term adverse-effect profile is unclear; infliximab is therefore generally reserved for treatment of disease that is refractory to treatment with corticosteroids or other immunomodulators. Antibiotics and ciclosporin are unlikely to be beneficial in inducing remission.
Bowel-sparing surgery to induce remission may be preferable to extensive resection, to avoid short-bowel syndrome. Segmental and sub-total colectomy have similar remission rates.
Laparoscopic resection may reduce postoperative hospital stay, but we don't know whether strictureplasty is effective.
Azathioprine has been shown to be beneficial in maintaining remission in Crohn's disease, either alone or after surgery, and has a corticosteroid-sparing effect, but it is associated with important adverse effects. Ciclosporin, or oral corticosteroids, alone are unlikely to be beneficial in maintaining remission after medical treatment. Methotrexate and infliximab may also maintain remission compared with placebo. Smoking cessation reduces the risk of relapse, and enteral nutrition may be effective. Fish oil and probiotics have not been shown to be effective.
Mesalazine seems effective in maintaining medically induced remission, but we don't know how effective other aminosalicylates are in maintaining remission.
PMCID: PMC3217808  PMID: 21524318
3.  Crohn's disease 
BMJ Clinical Evidence  2007;2007:0416.
Introduction
Crohn's disease is a long-term chronic condition of the gastrointestinal tract. It is characterised by transmural, granulomatous inflammation that occurs in a discontinuous pattern, with a tendency to form fistulae. The cause is unknown but may depend on interactions between genetic predisposition, environmental triggers, and mucosal immunity.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of medical treatments in adults to induce remission in Crohn's disease? What are the effects of lifestyle interventions in adults with Crohn's disease to maintain remission? What are the effects of surgical interventions in adults with small-bowel Crohn's disease to induce remission? What are the effects of surgical interventions in adults with colonic Crohn's disease to induce remission? What are the effects of medical interventions to maintain remission in adults with Crohn's disease; and to maintain remission following surgery? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library and other important databases up to March 2006 (BMJ Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 60 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: aminosalicylates, antibiotics, azathioprine/mercaptopurine, ciclosporin, corticosteroids (oral), enteral nutrition, fish oil, infliximab, methotrexate, probiotics, resection, segmental colectomy, smoking cessation, and strictureplasty.
Key Points
Crohn's disease is a long-term chronic condition of the gastrointestinal tract. It is characterised by transmural, granulomatous inflammation that occurs in a discontinuous pattern, with a tendency to form fistulae.The cause is unknown but may depend on interactions between genetic predisposition, environmental triggers, and mucosal immunity.
First-line treatment to induce remission of acute disease is corticosteroids. Budesonide is generally recommended in mild to moderate ileocaecal disease because it is only slightly less effective in inducing remission than prednisolone, and has a superior adverse-effect profile.Prednisolone or methylprednisolone are generally recommended for severe or more extensive disease because of their superior efficacy.
Azathioprine and mercaptopurine are effective in inducing remission and healing fistulae in Crohn's disease, provided that 17 weeks or more of treatment are given. Monitoring for myelosuppression is obligatory. Aminosalicylates (mesalazine, sulfasalazine) may reduce disease activity, but we don't know which is the best regimen to induce remission. Methotrexate 25 mg weekly increases remission rates, and has a corticosteroid-sparing effect. There is consensus that it is also effective for maintenance.Cytokine inhibitors (e.g. infliximab) are effective in inducing and maintaining remission in Crohn's disease, but the long-term adverse-effect profile is unclear; they are therefore generally reserved for treatment of disease that is refractory to treatment with corticosteroids or other immunomodulators. Antibiotics and ciclosporin are unlikely to be beneficial in inducing remission.
Bowel-sparing surgery to induce remission may be preferable to extensive resection, to avoid short bowel syndrome. Segmental and subtotal colectomy have similar remission rates.
Laparoscopic resection may reduce postoperative hospital stay, but we don't know whether strictureplasty is effective.
Azathioprine has been shown to be beneficial in maintaining remission in Crohn's disease, either alone or after surgery, and has a corticosteroid-sparing effect, but is associated with important adverse effects. Ciclosporin, oral corticosteroids, or aminosalicylates alone are unlikely to be beneficial in maintaining remission.After surgery, aminosalicylates are likely to be beneficial in maintaining remission. Methotrexate and infliximab may also maintain remission compared with placebo. Smoking cessation reduces the risk of relapse, and enteral nutrition may be effective. Fish oil and probiotics have not been shown to be effective.
PMCID: PMC2943777  PMID: 19450352
4.  Attainment and characteristics of clinical remission according to the new ACR-EULAR criteria in abatacept-treated patients with early rheumatoid arthritis: new analyses from the Abatacept study to Gauge Remission and joint damage progression in methotrexate (MTX)-naive patients with Early Erosive rheumatoid arthritis (AGREE) 
Introduction
This study evaluated various remission criteria in abatacept plus methotrexate (MTX)-treated patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We aimed to investigate the time to, and sustainability of, remission, and to evaluate the relationship between remission, function and structure.
Methods
Post hoc analyses were performed from the 12-month, double-blind period of the Abatacept study to Gauge Remission and joint damage progression in methotrexate (MTX)-naive patients with Early Erosive rheumatoid arthritis (AGREE) in patients with early RA (≤2 years) and poor prognostic factors, comparing abatacept plus MTX (n = 210) versus MTX alone (n = 209).
Results
At month 12, Disease Activity Score 28, Simplified Disease Activity Index (SDAI), Clinical Disease Activity Index and Boolean remission rates were, for abatacept plus MTX versus MTX alone: 47.6 % versus 27.3 %, 33.3 % versus 12.4 %, 34.3 % versus 16.3 %, and 23.8 % versus 5.7 %, respectively. Cumulative probability demonstrated higher proportions achieving first remission and first sustained remission for abatacept plus MTX versus MTX alone (e.g., 23.3 % [95 % confidence interval (CI): 17.6, 29.1] vs 12.9 % [8.4, 17.5] for first SDAI remission over 0–6 months). For patients in SDAI remission at month 3, mean Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index at month 12 was 0.20 versus 0.50 for abatacept plus MTX versus MTX alone. Mean changes in radiographic score from baseline to month 12 were minimal for patients in SDAI remission at month 3 in both groups, while less structural damage progression was seen, 0.75 versus 1.35, respectively, for abatacept plus MTX versus MTX alone for patients with moderate/high disease activity at month 3 (adjusted mean treatment difference: −0.60 [95 % CI: −1.11, −0.09; P < 0.05]).
Conclusions
High proportions of abatacept plus MTX-treated patients achieved stringent remission criteria. Remission was associated with long-term functional benefit; dissociation was seen between clinical and structural outcomes for abatacept. These findings highlight the impact of reaching stringent remission targets early, on physical function and structural damage, in MTX-naïve biologic-treated patients.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT00122382. Registered 19 July 2005.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0671-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0671-9
PMCID: PMC4494702  PMID: 26063454
5.  Sustained rheumatoid arthritis remission is uncommon in clinical practice 
Introduction
Remission is an important goal of therapy in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but data on duration of remission are lacking. Our objective was to describe the duration of remission in RA, assessed by different criteria.
Methods
We evaluated patients from the Brigham and Women's Rheumatoid Arthritis Sequential Study (BRASS) not in remission at baseline with at least 2 years of follow-up. Remission was assessed according to the Disease Activity Score 28-C-reactive protein (DAS28-CRP4), Simplified Disease Activity Index (SDAI), and Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI) scores, and the recently proposed American College of Rheumatology (ACR)/European League against Rheumatism (EULAR) criteria for remission. Analyses were performed by using Kaplan-Meier survival curves.
Results
We identified 871 subjects with ≥2 years of follow-up. Of these subjects, 394 were in remission at one or more time-points and not in remission at baseline, according to at least one of the following criteria: DAS28-CRP < 2.6 (n = 309), DAS28-CRP < 2.3 (n = 275), SDAI (n = 168), CDAI (n = 170), and 2010 ACR/EULAR (n = 158). The median age for the 394 subjects at entrance to BRASS was 56 years; median disease duration was 8 years; 81% were female patients; and 72% were seropositive. Survival analysis performed separately for each remission criterion demonstrated that < 50% of subjects remained in remission 1 year later. Median remission survival time was 1 year. Kaplan-Meier curves of the various remission criteria did not significantly differ (P = 0.29 according to the log-rank test).
Conclusions
This study shows that in clinical practice, a minority of RA patients are in sustained remission.
doi:10.1186/ar3785
PMCID: PMC3446437  PMID: 22429277
6.  Long-term sustained remission in a cohort study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis: choice of remission criteria 
BMJ Open  2013;3(9):e003554.
Objectives
Remission is a widely accepted goal for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) but has to be sustained to arrest joint damage and disability. However, appropriate criteria for the assessment of sustained remission in long-term studies are not established. Therefore, we have compared the disease activity score calculated on 28 joints (DAS28) remission criterion, the Simplified Disease Activity Index less than 3.3 remission criterion (SDAI Cr) and the new Boolean-based set of criteria (Boolean Cr), and assessed the association of these criteria with radiographic and functional outcome.
Design
Prospective, long-term observational study of patients with early RA.
Setting
Secondary level of care; six participating centres from southern Sweden; both urban and rural populations.
Participants
698 patients were consecutively included in the study and 527 remained at the 8-year follow-up visit. Almost all patients were Caucasians, of which 64% were women. To be included, a patient, 18 years or older, had to fulfil the 1987 American College of Rheumatology criteria for RA and have a disease duration of no more than 1 year.
Results
Sustained remission was most common by the DAS28 Cr (14%), while 3% met the Boolean Cr and 5% the SDAI Cr, the latter figures increasing to 9% and 8%, respectively, when the patient’s global assessment was excluded. Radiographic joint damage was common but least pronounced in patients in sustained remission by all criteria. Sustained remission was associated with rapid and lasting improvement in function assessed by the Health Assessment questionnaire, irrespective of criteria.
Conclusions
The DAS28 Cr acquired more patients in sustained remission compared with the other criteria. In spite of that, radiographic damage and disability were not worse than that seen by other criteria and the patients’ perspective was preserved. The DAS28 Cr may therefore still be used in long-term observational studies until more accurate criteria are available.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003554
PMCID: PMC3773654  PMID: 24022393
RHEUMATOLOGY; THERAPEUTICS
7.  Remission of Rheumatoid Arthritis in Clinical Practice: Application of the ACR/EULAR 2011 Remission Criteria 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(11):3204-3215.
Purpose
To describe use of the ACR/EULAR (AE) rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remission criteria in clinical practice.
Methods
We examined remission in the US Veterans Affairs RA (VARA) registry of 1,341 patients (91% men) with 9,700 visits and a community rheumatology practice (ARCK) of 1,168 patients (28% men) with 6,362 visits. We studied cross-sectional and cumulative probabilities, agreement among various remission criteria, and aspects of reliability using Boolean definitions and CDAI and SDAI methods proposed by AE.
Results
By AE definition for community practice (swollen and tender joints ≤1, patient global ≤1), cross-sectional remission was 7.5% (6.4, 8.7) for ARCK and 8.9% (7.9, 9.9) for VARA. Cumulative or remission at any observation was 18.0% (ARCK) and 24.4% (VARA) over a mean of 2.2 years. Addition of ESR or CRP to criteria reduced remission to 5.0-6.2%, and use of CDAI/SDAI increased proportions to 6.9-10.1%. 1.8%-4.6% of patients met remission criteria at ≥2 visits. Agreement between criteria definitions was good by Kappa and Jaccard measures. Among patients in remission, the probability of a remission lasting 2 years was 6.0%-14.1%. Among all patients the probability of a remission lasting 2 years was <3%. Remission and examination results varied substantially among physicians by multilevel analyses.
Conclusion
Cross-sectional remission occurs at 5.0%-10.1%, with cumulative remission 2-3 times greater. Long-term remissions are rare. Problems with reliability and agreement limit criteria usefulness in the individual patient. However, the criteria can be an effective method for measuring clinical status and treatment effect in groups of patients in the community.
doi:10.1002/art.30524
PMCID: PMC3202065  PMID: 21739423
Rheumatoid arthritis; Remission; Reliability
8.  Validation of ACR/EULAR definition of remission in rheumatoid arthritis from RA practice: the ESPOIR cohort 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(3):R156.
Introduction
In development of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR)/European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remission definitions using clinical trials data, one criterion used to compare different remission definitions was whether, compared with those not in remission, those in remission had evidence of later disease stability defined by x-ray and functional status. Validation of the RA remission criteria using observational study data is necessary before recommending their use in practice.
Methods
Using data from those who met RA criteria in the ESPOIR cohort, we matched each person in remission with a person not in remission and then carried out analyses comparing later stability of x-ray and health assessment questionnaire (HAQ) between the two groups. We compared the predictive validity of the same candidate definitions of remission evaluated in the ACR/EULAR process. To minimize potential bias and produce more stable results, we used a bootstrap resampling approach to select those not in remission, repeating the sample matching analysis process 500 times.
Results
Results were similar to those of clinical trials analyzed for the ACR/EULAR remission criteria. Specifically, the ACR/EULAR remission definitions using either an simple disease activity index (SDAI) ≤ 3.3, clinical disease activity index (CDAI) ≤ 2.8 or a definition of remission requiring tender joint count, swollen joint count, patient global assessment all ≤ 1 performed as well or better than other candidate definitions of remission in terms of predicting later x-ray and function stability.
Conclusions
ACR/EULAR definitions of remission developed for trials are similarly valid in observational studies in RA and could be used in practice.
doi:10.1186/ar3896
PMCID: PMC3446542  PMID: 22747951
9.  Sustained maintenance of clinical remission after adalimumab dose reduction in patients with early psoriatic arthritis: a long-term follow-up study 
Purpose:
The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate the proportion of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) patients maintaining clinical remission after adalimumab (ADA) dose reduction compared with patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Secondary purposes include evaluating the proportion of PsA patients who achieve remission, the duration of remission after ADA dose reduction, time to relapse, psoriasis course, and the frequency of adverse events at the end of follow-up.
Methods:
This was a single-center, prospective, follow-up, case-control study of 76 consecutive patients (35 females, 41 males; mean age 46 ± 10.2 years) who met the classification criteria for psoriatic arthritis and required anti-tumor necrosis factor therapy according to Group for Research and Assessment of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis recommendations. The 76 patients were compared with 55 patients (40 females, 15 males; mean age 50 ± 11.6 years) who satisfied the American College of Rheumatology criteria for rheumatoid arthritis and received the same treatment. Case patients and controls were recruited from January 2008 to December 2010. At baseline, PsA patients and controls received 40 mg of ADA every other week, usually with methotrexate (10 to 20 mg/weekly). In the presence of clinical remission, ADA dose was reduced to 40 mg every 4 weeks in both groups.
Results:
Fifty-three of the 76 (69.7%) PsA patients and 17 of the 55 (30.9%) rheumatoid arthritis (P < 0.019) controls achieved remission after a mean time of 5.1 ± 1.2 and 6.3 ± 1.6 months, respectively (P = nonsignificant). After halving the dose of ADA, 47 of the 53 (88.6%) PsA patients and three of the 17 (17.6%) controls maintained remission (P = 0.016) over a mean follow-up period of 28.9 ± 8.4 and 24.2 ± 6.4 months, respectively. No significant changes in Psoriatic Arthritis Severity Index scores were observed. The mean time to relapse was 8.3 ± 3.4 months in six case patients and 7.2 ± 4.2 in 14 controls (P = not significant). No serious adverse events occurred in either group.
Conclusion:
Clinical remission is possible in a high percentage of patients with early PsA receiving ADA. Such remission is maintained in a high proportion of subjects after ADA dose halving, with relevant advantages in terms of patient compliance, drug-exposure risk, and economic burden.
doi:10.2147/BTT.S31145
PMCID: PMC3421476  PMID: 22904612
psoriatic arthritis; anti-TNF; adalimumab; remission; dose reduction
10.  Tight control in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: efficacy and feasibility 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(Suppl 3):iii56-iii60.
Objective
To evaluate the available evidence on the efficacy and feasibility of the new concept of tight control in randomised trials in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Tight control is a treatment strategy tailored to the individual patient with RA, which aims to achieve a predefined level of low disease activity or remission within a certain period of time.
Methods
The literature database PubMed was searched and yielded four trials: the FIN‐RACo trial, the TICORA study, the BeSt study and the CAMERA study.
Results
Tight control resulted in greater improvement and a higher percentage of patients meeting the preset aim of low disease activity or remission when compared to the control intervention. In the FIN‐RACo trial, aimed at DAS28<2.6, 51% of patients in the tight control group achieved remission versus 16% in the contrast group (p<0.001). In the TICORA study, 65% of patients in the tight control group versus 16% of the contrast group achieved remission, based on DAS<1.6 (p<0.0001). In the CAMERA study, 50% of patients in the tight control group using a computer decision model achieved remission, versus 37% in the contrast group (p = 0.029). The BeSt study consisted of only tight control groups aimed at a DAS<1.6; remission was achieved in 38–46% of patients. This is higher than the range of remission in earlier trials of 13–36%.
Conclusion
Tight control aiming for low disease activity or even better still, remission, seems a promising option in treating patients with RA in clinical trials and probably also in daily practice.
doi:10.1136/ard.2007.078360
PMCID: PMC2095293  PMID: 17934098
11.  Comparison of remission criteria in a tumour necrosis factor inhibitor treated rheumatoid arthritis longitudinal cohort: patient global health is a confounder 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(6):R221.
Introduction
Our objectives were to assess the frequency and sustainability of American College of Rheumatology (ACR)/European League against Rheumatism (EULAR) and Disease Activity Score (DAS)28(4v)–C-reactive protein (CRP) remission 12 months after the initiation of tumour necrosis factor inhibitor (TNFi) therapy in a rheumatoid arthritis (RA) cohort.
Methods
Data were collected of 273 biologic naive RA patients at baseline, then 3, 6 and 12 months post-TNFi therapy. Remission status was calculated using DAS28(4v)-CRP <2.6 and ACR/EULAR Boolean criteria. Response was scored using EULAR criteria.
Results
Mean (range) patient age was 59.9 (7.2-85.4) years with disease duration of 13.4 (1.0-52.0) years. Responder status maintained from 3–12 months (86%, 82.4%), laboratory/clinical parameters (erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), CRP, patient global health (PGH), DAS28(4v)-CRP) also showed sustained improvement (P < 0.05). DAS28 remission was reached by 102 subjects at 1 year, 27 patients were in Boolean remission, but 75 missed it from the DAS28 remission group. Patients in remission were younger (P = 0.041) with lower baseline tender joint count (TJC)28 and PGH than those not in remission (P = 0.001, P = 0.047). DAS28 remission patients were older (P = 0.026) with higher 12 months PGH and subsequently higher DAS28 than Boolean remission patients (P < 0.0001). Patients not achieving Boolean remission due to missing one subcriteria most frequently missed PGH ≤1 criteria (79.8%).
Conclusions
Only 10% of this TNFi treated cohort achieved remission according to the new ACR/EULAR criteria, which requires lower disease activity. More stringent criteria may ensure further resolution of disease activity and better longterm radiographic outcome, which supports earlier intervention with biologic therapy in RA.
doi:10.1186/ar4421
PMCID: PMC3978469  PMID: 24365061
12.  Intensive Intervention Can Lead to a Treatment Holiday from Biological DMARDs in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Drugs  2014;74(18):2129-2139.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation and joint destruction that causes significant morbidity and mortality. However, the combined use of methotrexate (MTX), a synthetic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (sDMARD) and biological DMARDs (bDMARDs) has revolutionized treatment of RA and clinical remission or low disease activity (LDA) are now realistic targets, achieved by a large proportion of RA patients. We are now in a position to evaluate if it is possible to maintain remission or LDA while at the same time reducing the burden of treatment on the patient and healthcare system. Data are emerging from large, well-conducted studies designed to answer this question, shedding light on which patient populations and treatment algorithms can survive treatment discontinuation or tapering with low risk of disease flare. For early RA, approximately half of early RA patients could discontinue TNF-targeted bDMARDs without clinical flare and functional impairment after obtaining clinical remission by bDMARDs with MTX. In contrast, for established RA, fewer patients sustained remission or LDA after the discontinuation of bDMARDs and “deep remission” at the discontinuation was a key factor to maintain the treatment holiday of bDMARDs. Thus, this article provides a brief outline on withdrawing or tapering bDMARDs once patients have achieved remission or LDA in RA.
doi:10.1007/s40265-014-0323-4
PMCID: PMC4245498  PMID: 25389048
13.  Very early rheumatoid arthritis is the major predictor of major outcomes: clinical ACR remission and radiographic non-progression 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;70(7):1292-1295.
Objectives
To identify predictors of clinical remission as well as of no x-ray progression in a cohort of early rheumatoid arthritis (ERA) treated with a tight-control protocol.
Methods
A total of 121 consecutive patients with ERA were treated to reach European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) and/or American College of Rheumatology (ACR) clinical remission with methotrexate (MTX) for 3 months, then with a combination with anti-tumour necrosis factor if the patient did not achieve a 44-joint Disease Activity Score (DAS44) ≤2.4. At baseline and after 12 months all the patients had hand and foot joint radiographs. Very early rheumatoid arthritis (VERA) was defined as a disease with symptoms of less than 12 weeks.
Results
In all, 46.3% of the patients reached DAS remission and 24.8% achieved ACR remission. More than 60% of patients reached remission with MTX. Male sex and an erythrocyte sedimentation rate <35 mm/h at onset arose as significant predictors of EULAR remission, while VERA disease was the only predictor of ACR remission. At baseline, 28.1% of the patients were erosive. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that the only independent predictor of erosiveness was ‘not having VERA disease’. After 12 months, VERA was the only factor predicting a lack of new erosions.
Conclusions
VERA represents the best therapeutic opportunity in clinical practice to achieve a complete remission and to stop the erosive course of rheumatoid arthritis.
doi:10.1136/ard.2010.142729
PMCID: PMC3103665  PMID: 21515600
14.  Sex: a major predictor of remission in early rheumatoid arthritis? 
Background
The treatment goal of early rheumatoid arthritis is remission. This study reports remission rates in clinical practice using a cohort of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis.
Methods
698 patients with early rheumatoid arthritis were included. Mean age at inclusion was 58 years and mean disease duration was 6.4 months; 64% of the patients were women, 56% were positive for antibodies to cyclic citrullinated peptide and 60% were positive for rheumatoid factor. Remission was defined as a disease activity score <2.6, with or without ongoing treatment with drugs for rheumatoid arthritis.
Results
After 2 years, 261 of 689 patients were in remission (37.9%), and after 5 years, the remission rate was 38.5%. However, only 26.1% were in remission at both these time points. Multiple logistic regression analyses found sex to be a main predictor for remission. Thus, significantly fewer women were in remission after 2 years (32.1% v 48%, p = 0.001) after 5 years (30.8% v 52.4%, p = 0.001) and at both these time points (19.1% v 39.3%, p = 0.001). Although disease activity was not with certainty more pronounced in women at onset of disease, the disease course became markedly worse in women. The disparity in remission frequency between women and men could not be explained by differences in disease duration, age or treatment with disease modifying antirheumatic drugs or glucocorticoids.
Conclusions
Early remission of rheumatoid arthritis by 28‐joint Disease Activity Score<2.6 was as frequent or more frequent in this study than in most previous reports. Importantly, women had more severe disease with a considerably lower remission rate than men, although the disease activity before treatment seemed similar.
doi:10.1136/ard.2006.056937
PMCID: PMC1798403  PMID: 17158139
15.  Is DAS28 an appropriate tool to assess remission in rheumatoid arthritis? 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2005;64(10):1410-1413.
Objectives: To study which cut off point of DAS28 corresponds to fulfilment of the American Rheumatism Association (ARA) preliminary remission criteria, and clinical remission criteria in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: All adult patients diagnosed with RA at Jyväskylä Central Hospital 1997–98 were assessed for remission at 5 years. Remission was defined as (a) ARA remission; (b) clinical remission (defined as no tender or swollen joints and normal erythrocyte sedimentation rate). DAS28 was used to measure disease activity. A receiver operating characteristics curve analysis was performed to calculate a cut off point of DAS28 that best corresponds to the ARA remission criteria and the clinical remission criteria.
Results: 161 patients (mean age 57 years, 107 (66%) female, 98 (61%) with positive rheumatoid factor, and 51 (32%) with erosions) were studied. At 5 years, 19 (12%) patients met the ARA remission criteria, and 55 (34%) met the clinical remission criteria. The cut off value of DAS28 was 2.32 for the ARA remission criteria, and 2.68 for the clinical remission criteria. In patients with DAS28 <2.32, 11/57 (19%) had tender joints, 6/57 (11%) had swollen joints, and 4/57 (7%) had both tender and swollen joints (66 joint count).
Conclusion: In this study the DAS28 cut off point for the ARA remission was lower than in previous studies. The cut off point for DAS28 remission remains controversial. A substantial proportion of patients below the DAS28 cut off point for remission have tender or swollen joints, or both. DAS28 may not be an appropriate tool for assessment of remission in RA.
doi:10.1136/ard.2005.037333
PMCID: PMC1755218  PMID: 15941836
16.  Performance of the new 2011 ACR/EULAR remission criteria with tocilizumab using the phase IIIb study TAMARA as an example and their comparison with traditional remission criteria 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;70(11):1986-1990.
Background
Remission is the established goal in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment. Although originally defined by a disease activity score in 28 joints (DAS28) <2.6, more stringent criteria may imply the absence of disease activity. The 2011 ACR/EULAR remission criteria provide the newest and most stringent definition of remission.
Objectives
To evaluate post hoc the remission by ACR/EULAR criteria and compare the criteria with the conventional DAS28 in TAMARA, an open-label phase IIIb tocilizumab (TCZ) trial including patients with active RA receiving inadequate disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) inhibitor treatment.
Results
286 patients were enrolled, 99.7% of patients were receiving a conventional DMARD and 41.6% had TNFα inhibitor pretreatment. Baseline mean DAS28 of 6.0 ± 1.0 fell to 2.6 ± 1.5 at week 24. DAS28 <2.6 was achieved by 47.6% at week 24. Remission rates with the new ACR/EULAR Boolean-based criteria for clinical studies were 15.0% after 12 weeks and 20.3% after 24 weeks. Of note, 13.5% of patients with previous TNFα blocker inadequate response still achieved remission according to the new ACR/EULAR criteria after 24 weeks. Clinical Disease Activity Index and Simplified Disease Activity Index remission rates were 24.1% and 25.2%, respectively.
Conclusions
Under the definition of the new stringent 2011 ACR/EULAR remission criteria, patients with active RA despite DMARD treatment and even after inadequate response to TNFα inhibitors, receiving TCZ showed significant rates of remission. Similar remission rates were achieved, when clinical practice criteria, not inclusive of acute phase reactants, were used.
doi:10.1136/ard.2011.152678
PMCID: PMC3184242  PMID: 21875873
17.  Clinical and functional remission: even though biologics are superior to conventional DMARDs overall success rates remain low – results from RABBIT, the German biologics register 
We investigated the frequency of remission according to the disease activity score (DAS28) definition, modified American Rheumatology Association (ARA) criteria, and the frequency of an achievement of a functional status above defined thresholds ('functional remission', 'physical independence') in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients treated with either biologics or conventional DMARDs. We used the data of a prospective cohort study, the German biologics register RABBIT (German acronym for Rheumatoid Arthritis – Observation of Biologic Therapy) to investigate the outcomes in RA patients with two or more DMARD failures who received new treatment with biologics (BIOL; n = 818) or a conventional DMARD (n = 265). Logistic regression analysis was applied to adjust for differences in baseline risks. Taking risk indicators such as previous DMARD failures or baseline clinical status into account, we found that biologics doubled the chance of remission compared to conventional DMARD therapies (DAS28 remission, adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.95 (95% confidenece interval (CI) 1.2–3.2)); ARA remission, OR 2.05 (95% CI 1.2–3.5)). High remission rates (DAS28 remission, 30.6%; ARA remission, 16.9%) were observed in BIOL patients with a moderate disease activity (DAS28, 3.2 to 5.1) at the start of treatment. These rates decreased to 8.5% in patients with DAS28 > 6. Sustained remission at 6 and 12 months was achieved in <10% of the patients. Severely disabled patients (≤50% of full function) receiving biologic therapies were significantly more likely to achieve a status indicating physical independence (≥67% of full function) than controls (OR 3.88 (95% CI 1.7–8.8)). 'Functional remission' (≥83% of full function) was more often achieved in BIOL than in controls (OR 2.18 (95% CI 1.04–4.6)). In conclusion, our study shows that biologics increase the chance to achieve clinical remission and a status of functional remission or at least physical independence. However, temporary or even sustained remission remain ambitious aims, which are achieved in a minority of patients only.
doi:10.1186/ar1933
PMCID: PMC1526636  PMID: 16600016
18.  Crohn’s disease genotypes of patients in remission vs relapses after infliximab discontinuation 
AIM: To investigate genetic differences between Crohn’s disease (CD) patients with a sustained remission vs relapsers after discontinuing infliximab while in corticosteroid-free remission.
METHODS: Forty-eight CD patients received infliximab and were in full corticosteroid-free clinical remission but then discontinued infliximab for reasons other than a loss of response, were identified by review of an electronic database and charts. Infliximab-associated remission was defined as corticosteroid-free plus normalization of clinical disease activity [CD activity index (CDAI) < 150] during follow-up visits based on physician global assessments. A CD relapse (loss of infliximab-induced remission) was clinically defined as a physician visit for symptoms of disease activity (CDAI > 220) and a therapeutic intervention with CD medication(s), or a hospitalization with complications related to active CD. Genetic analyses were performed on samples from 14 patients (n = 6 who had a sustained long term remission after stopping infliximab, n = 8 who rapidly relapsed after stopping infliximab). Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain 2 (NOD2)/caspase activation recruitment domain 15 (CARD15) polymorphisms (R702W, G908R and L1007fs) and the inflammatory bowel disease 5 (IBD5) polymorphisms (IGR2060a1 and IGR3081a1) were analyzed in each group.
RESULTS: Five single nucleotide polymorphisms of IBD5 and NOD2/CARD15 genes were successfully analyzed for all 14 subjects. There was no significant increase in frequency of the NOD2/CARD15 polymorphisms (R702W, G908R and L1007fs) and the IBD5 polymorphisms (IGR2060a1 and IGR3081a1) in either group of patients; those whose disease relapsed rapidly or those who remained in sustained long term remission following the discontinuation of infliximab. Nearly a third of patients in full clinical remission who stopped infliximab for reasons other than loss of response remained in sustained clinical remission, while two-thirds relapsed rapidly. There was a marked difference in the duration of clinical remission following discontinuance of infliximab between the two groups. The patients who lost remission did so after 1.0 years ± 0.6 years, while those still in remission were at the time of this study, 8.1 years ± 2.6 years post-discontinuation of infliximab, P < 0.001. The 8 patients who had lost remission after discontinuing infliximab had a mean number of 5 infusions (range 3-7), with a mean treatment time of 7.2 mo (range 1.5 mo-15 mo). The mean duration of time from the last infusion of infliximab to the time of loss of remission was 382 d (range 20 d-701 d). The 6 patients who remained in remission after discontinuing infliximab had a mean number of 6 infusions (range 3-12), with a mean treatment duration of 12 mo (range 3.6 mo-32 mo) (P = 0.45 relative to those who lost remission).
CONCLUSION: There are no IBD5 or NOD2/CARD15 mutations that predict which patients might have sustained remission and which will relapse rapidly after stopping infliximab.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v18.i36.5058
PMCID: PMC3460332  PMID: 23049214
Infliximab; Anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha; Crohn’s disease; Inflammatory bowel disease; Genotype
19.  Adherence to a treat-to-target strategy in early rheumatoid arthritis: results of the DREAM remission induction cohort 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(6):R254.
Introduction
Clinical trials have demonstrated that treatment-to-target (T2T) is effective in achieving remission in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the concept of T2T has not been fully implemented yet and the question is whether a T2T strategy is feasible in daily clinical practice. The objective of the study was to evaluate the adherence to a T2T strategy aiming at remission (Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28) < 2.6) in early RA in daily practice. The recommendations regarding T2T included regular assessment of the DAS28 and advice regarding DAS28-driven treatment adjustments.
Methods
A medical chart review was performed among a random sample of 100 RA patients of the DREAM remission induction cohort. At all scheduled visits, it was determined whether the clinical decisions were compliant to the T2T recommendations.
Results
The 100 patients contributed to a total of 1,115 visits. The DAS28 was available in 97.9% (1,092/1,115) of the visits, of which the DAS28 was assessed at a frequency of at least every three months in 88.3% (964/1,092). Adherence to the treatment advice was observed in 69.3% (757/1,092) of the visits. In case of non-adherence when remission was present (19.5%, 108/553), most frequently medication was tapered off or discontinued when it should have been continued (7.2%, 40/553) or treatment was continued when it should have been tapered off or discontinued (6.2%, 34/553). In case of non-adherence when remission was absent (42.1%, 227/539), most frequently medication was not intensified when an intensification step should have been taken (34.9%, 188/539). The main reason for non-adherence was discordance between disease activity status according to the rheumatologist and DAS28.
Conclusions
The recommendations regarding T2T were successfully implemented and high adherence was observed. This demonstrates that a T2T strategy is feasible in RA in daily clinical practice.
doi:10.1186/ar4099
PMCID: PMC3674614  PMID: 23176083
20.  Twenty‐eight‐joint counts invalidate the DAS28 remission definition owing to the omission of the lower extremity joints: a comparison with the original DAS remission 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2005;65(5):637-641.
Objective
To compare 28 joint disease activity score (DAS28) remission with comprehensive joint count DAS remission in rheumatoid arthritis.
Methods
620 actually measured paired observations of DAS28 and DAS were analysed in 155 patients. Discordant observations (either DAS or DAS28 below remission cut off level: 1.6 for DAS and 2.6 for DAS28) and concordant observations (both DAS and DAS28 below their remission cut off level) were analysed separately.
Results
91 of 620 paired DAS observations (15%) were discordant; 87 (in 53 patients) comprised observations in which the DAS28 remission criterion, but not the DAS remission criterion, was met. The reverse was found in only four observations, which were therefore omitted. With the original DAS as standard, DAS28 sensitivity was 95% and specificity 84%. Probability plots showed a swollen joint count >0 in 75% of discordant pairs v 48% of concordant pairs. The same was found for total joint count (TJC >0 in 90% v 40%; median TJC, 0 v 6) and patient global assessment, but not for ESR. Individual joint analysis showed that 51% of discordant v 18% of concordant observations (p<0.0005) had involvement of lower extremity joints that are not included in the DAS28.
Conclusions
DAS remission is more conservative than DAS28 remission. Activity (tenderness and swelling) in joints not included in the reduced joint counts (ankles, feet) mainly account for the discrepancy between the two assessments. DAS28 remission at a cut off level of 2.6 has insufficient construct validity and should be used with caution in clinical practice and clinical trials.
doi:10.1136/ard.2005.039859
PMCID: PMC1798155  PMID: 16219709
remission; disease activity score; probability plot
21.  Clinical and radiographic outcomes at 2 years and the effect of tocilizumab discontinuation following sustained remission in the second and third year of the ACT-RAY study 
Objective
To assess the efficacy and safety of tocilizumab (TCZ) plus methotrexate/placebo (MTX/PBO) over 2 years and the course of disease activity in patients who discontinued TCZ due to sustained remission.
Methods
ACT-RAY was a double-blind 3-year trial. Patients with active rheumatoid arthritis despite MTX were randomised to add TCZ to ongoing MTX (add-on strategy) or switch to TCZ plus PBO (switch strategy). Using a treat-to-target approach, open-label conventional synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (csDMARDs), other than MTX, were added from week 24 if Disease Activity Score in 28 joints based on erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28-ESR) >3.2. Between weeks 52 and 104, patients in sustained clinical remission (DAS28-ESR <2.6 at two consecutive visits 12 weeks apart) discontinued TCZ and were assessed every 4 weeks for 1 year. If sustained remission was maintained, added csDMARDs, then MTX/PBO, were discontinued.
Results
Of the 556 randomised patients, 76% completed year 2. Of patients entering year 2, 50.4% discontinued TCZ after achieving sustained remission and 5.9% achieved drug-free remission. Most patients who discontinued TCZ (84.0%) had a subsequent flare, but responded well to TCZ reintroduction. Despite many patients temporarily stopping TCZ, radiographic progression was minimal, with differences favouring add-on treatment. Rates of serious adverse events and serious infections per 100 patient-years were 12.2 and 4.4 in add-on and 15.0 and 3.7 in switch patients. In patients with normal baseline values, alanine aminotransferase elevations >3×upper limit of normal were more frequent in add-on (14.3%) versus switch patients (5.4%).
Conclusions
Treat-to-target strategies could be successfully implemented with TCZ to achieve sustained remission, after which TCZ was stopped. Biologic-free remission was maintained for about 3 months, but most patients eventually flared. TCZ restart led to rapid improvement.
Trial registration number
NCT00810199.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-205752
PMCID: PMC4283697  PMID: 25169728
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (biologic); Methotrexate
22.  Rheumatoid arthritis 
BMJ Clinical Evidence  2007;2007:1124.
Introduction
Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts as a symmetrical polyarthritis, and its course is marked by flares and remissions. The aims of treatment are to relieve pain and swelling, and to improve function. In addition, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may reduce disease progression.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of drug treatments in people with rheumatoid arthritis who have not previously received any disease-modifying antirheumatic drug treatment? How do different drug treatments compare in people with rheumatoid arthritis who have either not responded to or are intolerant of first-line disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library and other important databases up to June 2005 (BMJ Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Results
We found 62 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
Conclusions
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: adalimumab, anakinra, antimalarial drugs, azathioprine, ciclosporin, corticosteroids, cyclophosphamide, etanercept, infliximab plus methotrexate, leflunomide, methotrexate (alone; or plus sulfasalazine plus hydroxychloroquine), oral gold, parenteral gold, penicillamine, sulfasalazine.
Key Points
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that mainly affects the peripheral joints and surrounding tissue. It usually starts as a symmetrical polyarthritis, and its course is marked by flares and remissions.The aims of treatment are to relieve pain and swelling, and to improve function. In addition, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may reduce disease progression.
The DMARD methotrexate is widely used as first-line treatment in people with rheumatoid arthritis because of consensus about its effectiveness in practice. Sulfasalazine and combined treatment with methotrexate and sulfasalazine are as effective as methotrexate in improving pain, joint swelling, and function in people with early rheumatoid arthritis who have not previously received DMARDs. Antimalarials may improve symptoms and function in DMARD-naïve people, and are reasonably well tolerated, but radiological evidence of erosion is more marked with antimalarials than with sulfasalazine.
There is a variety of DMARDs available for second-line treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, and we found no clear evidence that one is superior. Methotrexate, sulfasalazine, penicillamine , and leflunomide cause similar improvements in symptoms and function when given to people as second-line DMARD treatment, although methotrexate causes fewer adverse effects.The combination of methotrexate plus sulfasalazine plus hydroxychloroquine is more effective in reducing measures of disease activity in people receiving second-line treatment than any of the drugs used alone. Adding the cytokine inhibitors infliximab or etanercept to methotrexate is more effective than using methotrexate alone.Although antimalarials and oral gold seem to improve clinical disease activity when given as second-line treatment, they are not as effective as methotrexate or sulfasalazine. Although parenteral gold is more effective than oral gold, it leads to higher levels of toxicity than most of the other commonly used DMARDs. Ciclosporin offers short-term control of rheumatoid arthritis when used as second-line treatment, but is associated with nephrotoxicity.We don′t know whether cyclophosphamide is as effective as other DMARDs for second-line treatment.Cytokine inhibitors may offer an alternative to traditional DMARDs for second line treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, but more research is needed. Etanercept may be as effective as methotrexate in improving symptoms, function, and radiological evidence of progression, but more evidence for its effect is needed Azathioprine is less effective and is less well tolerated than methotrexate.We don't know whether anakinra or adalimumab are as effective as other DMARDs for second-line treatment.Although widely used for the initial short-term relief of clinical disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis, we don't know how corticosteroids compare with other drugs for first or second-line treatment.
PMCID: PMC2943775  PMID: 19454108
23.  The DAS28-ESR cutoff value necessary to achieve remission under the new Boolean-based remission criteria in patients receiving tocilizumab 
Clinical Rheumatology  2012;32(1):123-127.
To seek the cutoff value of the 28-joint disease activity score using erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28-ESR) that is necessary to achieve remission under the new Boolean-based criteria, we analyzed the data for 285 patients with rheumatoid arthritis registered between May 2008 and November 2009 by the Michinoku Tocilizumab Study Group and observed for 1 year after receiving tocilizumab (TCZ) in real clinical practice. Remission rates under the DAS28-ESR criteria and the Boolean criteria were assessed every 6 months after the first TCZ dose. The DAS28-ESR cutoff value necessary to achieve remission under the new criteria was analyzed by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. Data were analyzed using last observation carried forward. After 12 months of TCZ use, remission was achieved in 164 patients (57.5 %) by DAS28-ESR and 71 patients (24.9 %) under the new criteria for clinical trials. CRP levels scarcely affected remission rates, and the difference between remission rates defined by DAS28-ESR and by the new criteria was mainly due to patient global assessment (PGA). Improvement of PGA was inversely related to disease duration. ROC analysis revealed that the DAS28-ESR cutoff value necessary to predict remission under the new criteria for clinical trials was 1.54, with a sensitivity of 88.7 %, specificity of 85.5 %, positive predictive value of 67.0 %, and negative predictive value of 95.8 %. A DAS28-ESR cutoff value of 1.54 may be reasonable to predict achievement of remission under the new Boolean-based criteria for clinical trials in patients receiving TCZ.
doi:10.1007/s10067-012-2103-4
PMCID: PMC3558670  PMID: 23090655
Boolean; Criteria; DAS28-ESR; Remission; Tocilizumab
24.  Defining Remission in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Results of an Initial ACR Consensus Conference 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;61(5):704-710.
Due to advances in therapies for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) over the last years, an increasing proportion of patients are able to achieve a state of ‘remission’. But what exactly is remission? At the moment, randomized controlled trials around the world use different remission definitions and consequently measure different aspects of a patient’s disease state. For research findings to be correctly interpreted, the need for a uniform definition of remission is vital. The ACR constituted a committee to redefine remission in RA that included international clinical researchers, trialists and clinical epidemiologists. This group was asked to study current definitions of remission, explore the theoretical underpinning of the concept of ‘remission’, and develop a research agenda that would inform future work in the development of an ACR definition of remission.
In its first meeting, the committee preferred to develop a ‘strict’ definition, implying no or very low disease activity. Such a definition would need to be validated against long-term outcome e.g. physical function and damage. The committee decided to consider both a definition for trials and a modified version for clinical practice.
doi:10.1002/art.24392
PMCID: PMC2681785  PMID: 19405006
25.  A Genetic Association Study of Serum Acute-Phase C-Reactive Protein Levels in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Implications for Clinical Interpretation 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(9):e1000341.
A genetic association study by Timothy Vyse and colleagues suggests that there is a significant association between CRP variants and acute-phase serum CRP concentrations in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, including those with chronic inflammation.
Background
The acute-phase increase in serum C-reactive protein (CRP) is used to diagnose and monitor infectious and inflammatory diseases. Little is known about the influence of genetics on acute-phase CRP, particularly in patients with chronic inflammation.
Methods and Findings
We studied two independent sets of patients with chronic inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis (total 695 patients). A tagSNP approach captured common variation at the CRP locus and the relationship between genotype and serum CRP was explored by linear modelling. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) was incorporated as an independent marker of inflammation to adjust for the varying levels of inflammatory disease activity between patients. Common genetic variants at the CRP locus were associated with acute-phase serum CRP (for the most associated haplotype: p = 0.002, p<0.0005, p<0.0005 in patient sets 1, 2, and the combined sets, respectively), translating into an approximately 3.5-fold change in expected serum CRP concentrations between carriers of two common CRP haplotypes. For example, when ESR = 50 mm/h the expected geometric mean CRP (95% confidence interval) concentration was 43.1 mg/l (32.1–50.0) for haplotype 1 and 14.2 mg/l (9.5–23.2) for haplotype 4.
Conclusions
Our findings raise questions about the interpretation of acute-phase serum CRP. In particular, failure to take into account the potential for genetic effects may result in the inappropriate reassurance or suboptimal treatment of patients simply because they carry low-CRP–associated genetic variants. CRP is increasingly being incorporated into clinical algorithms to compare disease activity between patients and to predict future clinical events: our findings impact on the use of these algorithms. For example, where access to effective, but expensive, biological therapies in rheumatoid arthritis is rationed on the basis of a DAS28-CRP clinical activity score, then two patients with identical underlying disease severity could be given, or denied, treatment on the basis of CRP genotype alone. The accuracy and utility of these algorithms might be improved by using a genetically adjusted CRP measurement.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a serum marker for inflammation or infection and acts by binding to a chemical (phosphocholine) found on the surface of dead or dying cells (and some types of bacteria) in order to activate the immune system (via the complement system). Fat cells release factors that stimulate the liver to produce CRP, and serum levels greater than 10 mg/l are generally considered indicative of an infectious or inflammatory process. After an inflammatory stimulus, serum CRP levels may exceed 500 times baseline, so CRP is used in all medical specialities to help diagnose inflammation and infection. Although patients with chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, have raised levels of CRP, levels of CRP are still highly variable. Some studies have suggested that there may be genetic variations of CRP (CRP variants) that determine the magnitude of the acute-phase CRP response, a finding that has important clinical implications: CRP thresholds are used as a diagnostic component of formal clinical algorithms and play an important role in a clinician's decision-making process when diagnosing inflammatory disease and choosing treatment options. Therefore, it is possible that false reassurance could be given to a patient with disease, or optimal treatment withheld, because some patients are genetically predisposed to have only a modest increase in acute-phase CRP.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although some studies have looked at the CRP gene variant response, few, if any, studies have examined the CRP gene variant response in the context of chronic inflammation, such as in rheumatoid arthritis. Therefore, this study aimed to determine whether CRP gene variants could also influence CRP serum levels in rheumatoid arthritis.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors studied two independent sets of patients with chronic inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis (total 695 patients): one patient set used a cohort of 281 patients in the UK, and the other patient set (used for replication) consisted of 414 patients from New Zealand and Australia. A genetic technique (a tagSNP approach) was used to capture common variations at the CRP locus (haplotype association analysis) at both the population and the individual level. The relationship between genotype and serum CRP was explored by linear modeling. The researchers found that common genetic variants at the CRP locus were associated with acute-phase serum CRP in both patient sets translating into an approximate 3.5-fold change in expected serum CRP between carriers of two common CRP variants. For example, when ESR = 50 mm/h the expected CRP serum level for one common CRP variant was 43.1 mg/l and for another CRP variant was 14.2 mg/l.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this study raise questions about the interpretation of acute-phase serum CRP, as they suggest that there is a significant association between CRP variants and acute-phase serum CRP concentrations in a group of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, including those with chronic active inflammation. The size of the genetic effect may be large enough to have a clinically relevant impact on the assessment of inflammatory disease activity, which in turn may influence therapeutic decision making. Failure to take into account the potential for genetic effects may result in the inappropriate reassurance or undertreatment of patients simply because they carry low-CRP–associated genetic variants. CRP is increasingly being incorporated into clinical algorithms to compare disease activity between patients and to predict future clinical events, so these findings impact on the use of such algorithms. The accuracy and utility of these algorithms might be improved by using a genetically adjusted CRP measurement.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000341
Lab Test Online provides information on CRP
The Wellcome Trust provides a glossary of genetic terms
Learn.Genetics provides access to the Genetic Science Learning Center, which is part of the human genome project
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000341
PMCID: PMC2943443  PMID: 20877716

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