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1.  Efficacy and Safety of ABT‐494, a Selective JAK‐1 Inhibitor, in a Phase IIb Study in Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis and an Inadequate Response to Methotrexate 
Objective
To evaluate the efficacy and safety of ABT‐494, a selective JAK‐1 inhibitor, in patients with moderate‐to‐severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and an inadequate response to methotrexate (MTX).
Methods
Three hundred RA patients receiving stable doses of MTX were randomly assigned equally to receive immediate‐release ABT‐494 at 3, 6, 12, or 18 mg twice daily, 24 mg once daily, or placebo for 12 weeks. The primary efficacy end point was the proportion of patients meeting the American College of Rheumatology 20% improvement criteria (achieving an ACR20 response) at week 12, as determined using the last observation carried forward method.
Results
At week 12, the proportion of ACR20 responses was higher with ABT‐494 (62%, 68%, 80%, 64%, and 76% for the 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 mg doses, respectively) than with placebo (46%) (using nonresponder imputation) (P < 0.05 for the 6, 12, and 24 mg doses). There was a significant dose‐response relationship among all ABT‐494 doses (P < 0.001). The proportions of patients achieving ACR50 and ACR70 responses were significantly higher for all ABT‐494 doses (except the 12 mg dose for the ACR70 response) than for placebo, as were changes in the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints using the C‐reactive protein level (DAS28‐CRP). Rapid improvement was demonstrated by significant differences in ACR20 response rates and changes in the DAS28‐CRP for all doses compared with placebo at week 2 (the first postbaseline visit). The incidence of adverse events was similar across groups; most were mild, and infections were the most frequent. One serious infection (community‐acquired pneumonia) occurred with ABT‐494 at 12 mg. There were dose‐dependent increases in high‐density lipoprotein (HDL) and low‐density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, but the LDL cholesterol:HDL cholesterol ratios were unchanged through week 12. Mean hemoglobin levels remained stable at lower doses, but decreases were observed at higher doses.
Conclusion
This study evaluated a broad range of doses of ABT‐494 in RA patients with an inadequate response to MTX. ABT‐494 demonstrated efficacy, with a safety and tolerability profile similar to that of other JAK inhibitors.
doi:10.1002/art.39808
PMCID: PMC5132065  PMID: 27390150
2.  Tocilizumab in early progressive rheumatoid arthritis: FUNCTION, a randomised controlled trial 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2015;75(6):1081-1091.
Objectives
The efficacy of tocilizumab (TCZ), an anti-interleukin-6 receptor antibody, has not previously been evaluated in a population consisting exclusively of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods
In a double-blind randomised controlled trial (FUNCTION), 1162 methotrexate (MTX)-naive patients with early progressive RA were randomly assigned (1:1:1:1) to one of four treatment groups: 4 mg/kg TCZ+MTX, 8 mg/kg TCZ+MTX, 8 mg/kg TCZ+placebo and placebo+MTX (comparator group). The primary outcome was remission according to Disease Activity Score using 28 joints (DAS28–erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) <2.6) at week 24. Radiographic and physical function outcomes were also evaluated. We report results through week 52.
Results
The intent-to-treat population included 1157 patients. Significantly more patients receiving 8 mg/kg TCZ+MTX and 8 mg/kg TCZ+placebo than receiving placebo+MTX achieved DAS28-ESR remission at week 24 (45% and 39% vs 15%; p<0.0001). The 8 mg/kg TCZ+MTX group also achieved significantly greater improvement in radiographic disease progression and physical function at week 52 than did patients treated with placebo+MTX (mean change from baseline in van der Heijde–modified total Sharp score, 0.08 vs 1.14 (p=0.0001); mean reduction in Health Assessment Disability Index, −0.81 vs −0.64 (p=0.0024)). In addition, the 8 mg/kg TCZ+placebo and 4 mg/kg TCZ+MTX groups demonstrated clinical efficacy that was at least as effective as MTX for these key secondary endpoints. Serious adverse events were similar among treatment groups. Adverse events resulting in premature withdrawal occurred in 20% of patients in the 8 mg/kg TCZ+MTX group.
Conclusions
TCZ is effective in combination with MTX and as monotherapy for the treatment of patients with early RA.
Trial registration number
ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01007435
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2015-207628
PMCID: PMC4893095  PMID: 26511996
Early Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (biologic); Methotrexate
3.  Efficacy and safety of subcutaneous tocilizumab versus intravenous tocilizumab in combination with traditional DMARDs in patients with RA at week 97 (SUMMACTA) 
Objectives
To evaluate the long-term efficacy and safety of subcutaneous (SC) tocilizumab (TCZ) versus intravenous (IV) TCZ, including switching formulations, in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and inadequate response to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
Methods
Patients (n=1262) were randomised 1:1 to receive TCZ-SC 162 mg weekly (qw)+placebo-IV every four weeks (q4w) or TCZ-IV 8 mg/kg q4w+placebo-SC qw in combination with DMARD(s). After a 24-week double-blind period, patients receiving TCZ-SC were re-randomised 11:1 to TCZ-SC (n=521) or TCZ-IV (TCZ-SC–IV, n=48), and patients receiving TCZ-IV were re-randomised 2:1 to TCZ-IV (n=372) or TCZ-SC (TCZ-IV–SC; n=186). Maintenance of clinical responses and safety through week 97 were assessed.
Results
The proportions of patients who achieved American College of Rheumatology (ACR)20/50/70 responses, Disease Activity Score in 28 joints remission and improvement from baseline in Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index ≥0.3 were sustained through week 97 and comparable across arms. TCZ-SC had a comparable safety profile to TCZ-IV through week 97, except that injection site reactions (ISRs) were more common with TCZ-SC. Safety profiles in patients who switched were similar to those in patients who received continuous TCZ-SC or TCZ-IV treatment. The proportion of patients who developed anti-TCZ antibodies remained low across treatment arms. No association between anti-TCZ antibody development and clinical response or adverse events was observed.
Conclusions
The long-term efficacy and safety of TCZ-SC was maintained and comparable to that of TCZ-IV, except for ISRs. Profiles in patients who switched formulations were comparable to those in patients who received TCZ-IV or TCZ-SC. TCZ-SC provides additional treatment options for patients with RA.
Trial registration number
NCT01194414.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2015-207281
PMCID: PMC4717437  PMID: 26056119
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (biologic); Treatment
4.  Sustained improvements in MRI outcomes with abatacept following the withdrawal of all treatments in patients with early, progressive rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2016;75(8):1501-1505.
Objectives
To assess structural damage progression with subcutaneous abatacept (ABA) in the Assessing Very Early Rheumatoid arthritis Treatment (AVERT) trial following abrupt withdrawal of all rheumatoid arthritis (RA) medication in patients achieving Disease Activity Score (DAS)-defined remission or low disease activity.
Methods
Patients with early, active RA were randomised to ABA plus methotrexate (ABA/MTX) 125 mg/week, ABA 125 mg/week or MTX for 12 months. All RA treatments were withdrawn after 12 months in patients with DAS28 (C reactive protein (CRP)) <3.2. Adjusted mean changes from baseline in MRI-based synovitis, osteitis and erosion were calculated for the intention-to-treat population.
Results
351 patients were randomised and treated: ABA/MTX (n=119), ABA (n=116) or MTX (n=116). Synovitis and osteitis improved, and progression of erosion was statistically less with ABA/MTX versus MTX at month 12 (−2.35 vs −0.68, −2.58 vs −0.68, 0.19 vs 1.53, respectively; p<0.01 for each) and month 18 (−1.34 vs −0.49 −2.03 vs 0.34, 0.13 vs 2.0, respectively; p<0.01 for erosion); ABA benefits were numerically intermediate to those for ABA/MTX and MTX.
Conclusions
Structural benefits with ABA/MTX or ABA may be maintained 6 months after withdrawal of all treatments in patients who have achieved remission or low disease activity.
Trial registration number
NCT01142726; Results.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2015-208258
PMCID: PMC4975847  PMID: 26865601
Inflammation; Magnetic ResonaNce Imaging; Reactive arthritis
5.  The changing landscape of biosimilars in rheumatology 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2016;75(6):974-982.
Biosimilars remain a hot topic in rheumatology, and some physicians are cautious about their application in the real world. With many products coming to market and a wealth of guidelines and recommendations concerning their use, there is a need to understand the changing landscape and the real clinical and health-economic potential offered by these agents. Notably, rheumatologists will be at the forefront of the use of biosimilar monoclonal antibodies/soluble receptors. Biosimilars offer cost savings and health gains for our patients and will play an important role in treating rheumatic diseases. We hope that these lower costs will compensate for inequities in access to therapy based on economic differences across countries. Since approved biosimilars have already demonstrated highly similar efficacy, it will be most important to establish pharmacovigilance databases across countries that are adequate to monitor long-term safety after marketing approval.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2016-209166
PMCID: PMC4893105  PMID: 26964144
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Economic Evaluations; DMARDs (biologic); Treatment; Anti-TNF
6.  Decreased use of glucocorticoids in biological-experienced patients with rheumatoid arthritis who initiated intravenous abatacept: results from the 2-year ACTION study 
RMD Open  2016;2(1):e000228.
Introduction
Prolonged glucocorticoid use may increase the risk of adverse safety outcomes, including cardiovascular events. The European League Against Rheumatism and the Canadian Rheumatology Association advise tapering glucocorticoid dose as rapidly as clinically feasible. There is a paucity of published data on RA that adequately describe concomitant treatment patterns.
Methods
ACTION (AbataCepT In rOutiNe clinical practice) is a non-interventional cohort study of patients from Europe and Canada that investigated the long-term retention of intravenous abatacept in clinical practice. We assessed concomitant glucocorticoids in patients with established RA who had participated in ACTION and received ≥1 biological agent prior to abatacept initiation.
Results
The analysis included 1009 patients. Glucocorticoids were prescribed at abatacept initiation in 734 (72.7%) patients at a median 7.5 mg/day dose (n=692). Of the patients who remained on abatacept at 24 months, 40.7% were able to decrease their dose of glucocorticoids, including 26.9% who decreased their dose from >5 mg/day to ≤5 mg/day.
Conclusion
Reduction and/or cessation of glucocorticoid therapy is possible with intravenous abatacept in clinical practice.
doi:10.1136/rmdopen-2015-000228
PMCID: PMC4762207  PMID: 26925253
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Corticosteroids; DMARDs (biologic)
7.  Treating rheumatoid arthritis to target: 2014 update of the recommendations of an international task force 
Background
Reaching the therapeutic target of remission or low-disease activity has improved outcomes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) significantly. The treat-to-target recommendations, formulated in 2010, have provided a basis for implementation of a strategic approach towards this therapeutic goal in routine clinical practice, but these recommendations need to be re-evaluated for appropriateness and practicability in the light of new insights.
Objective
To update the 2010 treat-to-target recommendations based on systematic literature reviews (SLR) and expert opinion.
Methods
A task force of rheumatologists, patients and a nurse specialist assessed the SLR results and evaluated the individual items of the 2010 recommendations accordingly, reformulating many of the items. These were subsequently discussed, amended and voted upon by >40 experts, including 5 patients, from various regions of the world. Levels of evidence, strengths of recommendations and levels of agreement were derived.
Results
The update resulted in 4 overarching principles and 10 recommendations. The previous recommendations were partly adapted and their order changed as deemed appropriate in terms of importance in the view of the experts. The SLR had now provided also data for the effectiveness of targeting low-disease activity or remission in established rather than only early disease. The role of comorbidities, including their potential to preclude treatment intensification, was highlighted more strongly than before. The treatment aim was again defined as remission with low-disease activity being an alternative goal especially in patients with long-standing disease. Regular follow-up (every 1–3 months during active disease) with according therapeutic adaptations to reach the desired state was recommended. Follow-up examinations ought to employ composite measures of disease activity that include joint counts. Additional items provide further details for particular aspects of the disease, especially comorbidity and shared decision-making with the patient. Levels of evidence had increased for many items compared with the 2010 recommendations, and levels of agreement were very high for most of the individual recommendations (≥9/10).
Conclusions
The 4 overarching principles and 10 recommendations are based on stronger evidence than before and are supposed to inform patients, rheumatologists and other stakeholders about strategies to reach optimal outcomes of RA.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2015-207524
PMCID: PMC4717393  PMID: 25969430
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Outcomes research; Treatment; Early Rheumatoid Arthritis; Disease Activity
8.  Efficacy and safety of mavrilimumab in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(9):1445-1452.
Objectives
Mavrilimumab, a human monoclonal antibody targeting the alpha subunit of the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor, was evaluated in a phase 2 randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to investigate efficacy and safety in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods
Subcutaneous mavrilimumab (10 mg, 30 mg, 50 mg, or 100 mg) or placebo was administered every other week for 12 weeks in subjects on stable background methotrexate therapy. The primary endpoint was the proportion of subjects achieving a ≥1.2 decrease from baseline in Disease Activity Score (DAS28-CRP) at week 12.
Results
55.7% of mavrilimumab-treated subjects met the primary endpoint versus 34.7% placebo (p=0.003) at week 12; for the 10 mg, 30 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg groups, responses were 41.0% (p=0.543), 61.0% (p=0.011), 53.8% (p=0.071), and 66.7% (p=0.001) respectively. Response rate differences from placebo were observed at week 2 and increased throughout the treatment period. The 100 mg dose demonstrated a significant effect versus placebo on DAS28-CRP<2.6 (23.1% vs 6.7%, p=0.016), all categories of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria (ACR20: 69.2% vs 40.0%, p=0.005; ACR50: 30.8% vs 12.0%, p=0.021; ACR70: 17.9% vs 4.0%, p=0.030), and the Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index (−0.48 vs −0.25, p=0.005). A biomarker-based disease activity score showed a dose-dependent decrease at week 12, indicating suppression of disease-related biological pathways. Adverse events were generally mild or moderate in intensity. No significant hypersensitivity reactions, serious or opportunistic infections, or changes in pulmonary parameters were observed.
Conclusions
Mavrilimumab induced rapid clinically significant responses in RA subjects, suggesting that inhibiting the mononuclear phagocyte pathway may provide a novel therapeutic approach for RA.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202450
PMCID: PMC3756523  PMID: 23234647
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Treatment; Disease Activity
10.  The 2010 American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism Classification Criteria for Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(9):2582-2591.
Objective
The American College of Rheumatology and the European League Against Rheumatism have developed new classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of Phase 2 of the development process was to achieve expert consensus on the clinical and laboratory variables that should contribute to the final criteria set.
Methods
Twenty-four expert RA clinicians (12 from Europe and 12 from North America) participated in Phase 2. A consensus-based decision analysis approach was used to identify factors (and their relative weights) that influence the probability of “developing RA,” complemented by data from the Phase 1 study. Patient case scenarios were used to identify and reach consensus on factors important in determining the probability of RA development. Decision analytic software was used to derive the relative weights for each of the factors and their categories, using choice-based conjoint analysis.
Results
The expert panel agreed that the new classification criteria should be applied to individuals with undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis in whom at least 1 joint is deemed by an expert assessor to be swollen, indicating definite synovitis. In this clinical setting, they identified 4 additional criteria as being important: number of joints involved and site of involvement, serologic abnormality, acute-phase response, and duration of symptoms in the involved joints. These criteria were consistent with those identified in the Phase 1 data-driven approach.
Conclusion
The consensus-based, decision analysis approach used in Phase 2 complemented the Phase 1 efforts. The 4 criteria and their relative weights form the basis of the final criteria set.
doi:10.1002/art.27580
PMCID: PMC3077961  PMID: 20872596
11.  Restrictive IgG antibody response against mutated citrullinated vimentin predicts response to rituximab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Introduction
Antibodies against mutated citrullinated vimentin (AMCV) represent a useful diagnostic marker with correlation to disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Since seropositivity for citrullinated autoantibodies was predictive for response to B-cell depleting therapy (BCDT) with rituximab (RTX), we investigated whether differences in antibody fine reactivity and immunoglobulin (Ig) isotype kinetics among AMCV-positive patients could provide additional information about outcome.
Methods
A total of 50 AMCV IgG-positive RA patients (RTX responders (RRs) n = 37 and non-responders (NRRs) n = 13) were analyzed for reactivity against MCV epitopes and co-existent AMCV isotypes IgM and IgA. Antibody titers were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay at baseline and 24 weeks after the first cycle of RTX, and compared to kinetics of rheumatoid factor (RF) and antibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptide (ACCP).
Results
Recognized MCV epitopes by AMCV IgG of RRs and NRRs showed similar baseline patterns, with reducing reactivity in RRs and unchanged or even expanding reactivity in NRRs upon RTX treatment. At baseline, RRs were more frequently negative for AMCV subtypes, especially for IgA (68 %), compared to NRRs (31 %). Being AMCV IgA-negative at baseline indicated a good treatment response to RTX (negative predictive value = 0.86). Co-existence of AMCV IgA and IgG with stable titers upon treatment were associated with poorer responses to RTX. Furthermore, reductions of AMCV IgA levels upon RTX correlated with the improvement of 28-joint Disease Activity Score (DAS28). In comparison, subtypes of RF and ACCP were not of additional value for prediction of RTX response.
Conclusions
Restrictive IgG seropositivity against MCV with treatment-associated decline in fine reactivity and titers was predictive for response to RTX. Double-positivity for AMCV IgG and IgA was associated with failure to respond to BCDT, suggesting a pathogenetic and less sensitive IgA-producing B-cell subset in NRRs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0717-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0717-z
PMCID: PMC4535682  PMID: 26268352
12.  Biologicals in rheumatoid arthritis: current and future 
RMD Open  2015;1(1):e000127.
The aim of the review is to highlight the current knowledge about established and new biologicals and to summarise recent advances by focusing on comparative efficacy, safety and possible discontinuation of treatment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Up to now, comparative analyses showed only minor differences with respect to efficacy and safety among the established biologicals. Studies confirmed the excellent drug retention rate as well as efficacy and safety of approved biologicals including their use in monotherapy. Tapering and in some instances discontinuation of biologicals is possible in disease remission. In case of relapse, patients usually show full response after reintroduction of the same compound. The development of biologicals continues fast with several new biologicals targeting different or established cytokines or cellular subsets of the immune system. With several new biologicals in the pipeline and different formulations for established compounds, treatment options for RA will become even more versatile and sophisticated. Although we get closer to the aim of decreasing the proportion of refractory patients, many questions have to be addressed in the near future regarding emerging biosimilars and biologicals with new modes of action.
doi:10.1136/rmdopen-2015-000127
PMCID: PMC4613149  PMID: 26535144
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Treatment; DMARDs (biologic)
13.  Prognostic factors for abatacept retention in patients who received at least one prior biologic agent: an interim analysis from the observational, prospective ACTION study 
Background
The emergence of new therapies for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the paucity of head-to-head studies, and the heterogeneous nature of responses to current biologics highlight the need for the identification of prognostic factors for treatment response and retention in clinical practice. Prognostic factors for patient retention have not been explored thoroughly despite data for abatacept and other biologics being available from national registries. Real-world data from the ACTION study may supplement the findings of randomized controlled trials and show how abatacept is used in clinical practice. The aim of this interim analysis was to identify prognostic factors for abatacept retention in patients with RA who received at least one prior biologic agent.
Methods
A large, international, non-interventional cohort of patients with moderate-to-severe RA who initiated intravenous abatacept in Canada and Europe (May 2008–January 2011) enrolled in the ACTION study. Potential prognostic factors for retention in this interim analysis (data cut-off February 2012; including patients from Canada, Germany, Greece, and Italy) were baseline demographics and disease characteristics, medical history, and previous and concomitant medication. Clinically relevant variables with p ≤ 0.20 in univariate analysis and no collinearity were entered into a Cox proportional hazards regression model, adjusted for clustered data. Variables with p ≤ 0.10 were retained in the final model (backward selection).
Results
The multivariate model included 834 patients. Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) antibody positivity (hazard ratio [95 % confidence interval]: 0.55 [0.40, 0.75], p < 0.001), failure of <2 prior anti-tumor necrosis factors (TNFs) (0.71 [0.56, 0.90], p = 0.005 versus ≥2 prior anti-TNFs), and cardiovascular comorbidity at abatacept initiation (0.48 [0.28, 0.83], p = 0.009) were associated with lower risk of abatacept discontinuation. Patients in Greece and Italy were less likely to discontinue abatacept than patients in Germany and Canada (Greece: 0.30 [0.16, 0.58]; Italy: 0.50 [0.33, 0.76]; Canada: 1.04 [0.78, 1.40], p < 0.001 versus Germany).
Conclusions
Real-world prognostic factors for abatacept retention include anti-CCP positivity and fewer prior anti-TNF failures. Differences in retention rates between countries may reflect differences in healthcare systems. The finding that abatacept has potential advantages in patients with cardiovascular comorbidities needs to be confirmed in further research.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12891-015-0636-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12891-015-0636-9
PMCID: PMC4521342  PMID: 26228643
Abatacept; Biologic agents; Cyclic citrullinated peptide; Heart failure; Prognostic factors; Multivariate analysis; Retention; Rheumatoid arthritis
14.  Effectiveness and safety of the interleukin 6-receptor antagonist tocilizumab after 4 and 24 weeks in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis: the first phase IIIb real-life study (TAMARA) 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;70(5):755-759.
Objectives
To confirm the effectiveness and safety of the interleukin 6-receptor antagonist tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in a setting close to real-life medical care in Germany.
Methods
A multicentre open-label phase IIIb study was undertaken. Patients with active RA with a 28-joint Disease Activity Score (DAS28) >3.2 despite previous disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) were treated with tocilizumab 8 mg/kg every 4 weeks. The primary end point was the proportion of patients achieving LDAS ≤3.2 at week 24; secondary end points included American College of Rheumatology (ACR), European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) or Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI) responses and decrease in acute phase. Analyses in subgroups such as rheumatoid factor (RF)-positive versus RF-negative patients and patients with an inadequate response to treatment with DMARDs (DMARD-IR) versus those with an inadequate response to tumour necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists (TNF antagonist-IR) were performed. Safety was assessed by adverse event documentation.
Results
286 patients were treated and 83.6% completed the study. 41.6% had previously been treated with TNF antagonists. 57% of the intention-to-treat patients achieved the primary end point of LDAS, 47.6% achieved DAS remission <2.6 and a EULAR ‘good response’ was achieved by 54.9%; ACR50/70 response rates at week 24 were 50.7% and 33.9%, respectively. The mean±SD decrease in CDAI from baseline to week 24 was 71±29%. C reactive protein levels normalised rapidly within 1 week. Major improvements in fatigue, pain and morning stiffness were observed in the first 4 weeks and further improved until week 24. DAS28, EULAR and ACR responses at week 24 did not differ between RF-positive and RF-negative patients. TNF antagonist-naive patients responded better than patients who had previously failed on TNF antagonists. The safety profile of tocilizumab was comparable to that previously observed in the phase III trial programme. Serious infections were observed in 3.1% of patients.
Conclusions
Tocilizumab is highly effective in a setting close to real-life medical care with a rapid and sustained improvement in signs and symptoms of RA. A manageable safety profile was seen over the 24-week study period.
doi:10.1136/ard.2010.139725
PMCID: PMC3070275  PMID: 21187298
15.  Adalimumab alone and in combination with disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in clinical practice: the Research in Active Rheumatoid Arthritis (ReAct) trial 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(6):732-739.
Objective
To evaluate the safety and effectiveness of adalimumab alone or in combination with standard disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods
Patients with active RA despite treatment with DMARDs or prior treatment with a tumour necrosis factor antagonist participated in a multicentre, open‐label clinical study of adalimumab 40 mg every other week for 12 weeks with an optional extension phase. Patients were allowed to continue with pre‐existing traditional DMARDs. Long‐term safety results are reported for all patients (4210 patient‐years (PYs) of adalimumab exposure). The observed effectiveness results at week 12 are reported using American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria.
Results
Among the 6610 treated patients, adalimumab was generally well tolerated. Serious infections occurred in 3.1% of patients (5.5/100 PYs, including active tuberculosis, 0.5/100 PYs). Demyelinating disease (0.06%) and systemic lupus erythematosus (0.03%) were rare serious adverse events. The standardised incidence ratio of malignancy was 0.71 (95% CI 0.49 to 1.01). The standardised mortality ratio was 1.07 (95% CI 0.75 to 1.49). At week 12, 69% of patients achieved an ACR20 response, 83% a moderate, and 33% a good EULAR response. Adalimumab was effective in combination with a variety of DMARDs. The addition of adalimumab to antimalarials was comparably effective to the combination of adalimumab and methotrexate.
Conclusions
Considering the limitations of an open‐label study, adalimumab alone or in combination with standard DMARDs appeared to be well tolerated and effective in 6610 difficult‐to‐treat patients with active RA treated in clinical practice.
doi:10.1136/ard.2006.066761
PMCID: PMC1954645  PMID: 17329305
adalimumab; rheumatoid arthritis; tumour necrosis factor; monoclonal antibody; antirheumatic agents
17.  Introducing RMD Open 
RMD Open  2015;1(1):e000031.
doi:10.1136/rmdopen-2014-000031
PMCID: PMC4613170  PMID: 26509059
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Rheumatoid Factor; Treatment
18.  Active systemic lupus erythematosus is associated with a reduced cytokine production by B cells in response to TLR9 stimulation 
Introduction
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease associated with a break in self-tolerance reflected by a production of antinuclear autoantibodies. Since autoantibody production can be activated via nucleic acid Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9), the respective pathway has been implicated in the development of SLE and pathogenic B cell responses. However, the response of B cells from SLE patients to TLR9 stimulation remains incompletely characterized.
Methods
In the current study, the response of B cells from SLE patients and healthy donors upon TLR9 stimulation was analyzed in terms of proliferation and cytokine production and correlated with the lupus disease activity and anti-dsDNA titers.
Results
B cells from SLE patients showed a reduced response to TLR9 agonist compared to B cells from healthy donors in terms of proliferation and activation. B cells from SLE patients with higher disease activity produced less interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, vascular endothelial growth factor, and IL-1ra than B cells from healthy donors. Further analyses revealed an inverse correlation of cytokines produced by TLR9-stimulated B cells with lupus disease activity and anti-dsDNA titer, respectively.
Conclusion
The capacity of B cells from lupus patients to produce cytokines upon TLR9 engagement becomes less efficient with increasing disease activity, suggesting that they either enter an exhausted state or become tolerant to TLR stimulation for cytokine production when disease worsens.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0477-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0477-1
PMCID: PMC4247768  PMID: 25385499
19.  Hydroxychloroquine in patients with inflammatory and erosive osteoarthritis of the hands (OA TREAT): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2014;15:412.
Background
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a heterogeneous group of conditions with disturbed integrity of articular cartilage and changes in the underlying bone. The pathogenesis of OA is multifactorial and not just a disease of older people. Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) typically used for the treatment of various rheumatic and dermatologic diseases. Three studies of HCQ in OA, including one abstract and one letter, are available and use a wide variety of outcome measures in small patient populations. Despite initial evidence for good efficacy of HCQ, there has been no randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled trial in a larger patient group. In the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), evidence-based recommendations for the management of hand OA, HCQ was not included as a therapeutic option because of the current lack of randomized clinical trials.
Methods/Design
OA TREAT is an investigator-initiated, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. A total of 510 subjects with inflammatory and erosive hand OA, according to the classification criteria of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), with recent X-ray will be recruited across outpatient sites, hospitals and universities in Germany. Patients are randomized 1:1 to active treatment (HCQ 200 to 400 mg per day) or placebo for 52 weeks. Both groups receive standard therapy (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAID], coxibs) for OA treatment, taken steadily two weeks before enrollment and continued further afterwards. If disease activity increases, the dose of NSAID/coxibs can be increased according to the drug recommendation. The co-primary clinical endpoints are the changes in Australian-Canadian OA Index (AUSCAN, German version) dimensions for pain and hand disability at week 52. The co-primary radiographic endpoint is the radiographic progression from baseline to week 52. A multiple endpoint test and analysis of covariance will be used to compare changes between groups. All analyses will be conducted on an intention-to-treat basis.
Discussion
The OA TREAT trial will examine the clinical and radiological efficacy and safety of HCQ as a treatment option for inflammatory and erosive OA over 12 months. OA TREAT focuses on erosive hand OA in contrast to other current studies on symptomatic hand OA, for example, HERO [Trials 14:64, 2013].
Trial registration
ISRCTN46445413, date of registration: 05-10-2011.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-412
PMCID: PMC4219005  PMID: 25348033
Erosive hand osteoarthritis; Hydroxychloroquine; Double-blind; Hand; Placebo-controlled; Randomized
20.  Upregulation of Immunoproteasome Subunits in Myositis Indicates Active Inflammation with Involvement of Antigen Presenting Cells, CD8 T-Cells and IFNγ 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104048.
Objective
In idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIM) infiltration of immune cells into muscle and upregulation of MHC-I expression implies increased antigen presentation and involvement of the proteasome system. To decipher the role of immunoproteasomes in myositis, we investigated individual cell types and muscle tissues and focused on possible immune triggers.
Methods
Expression of constitutive (PSMB5, -6, -7) and corresponding immunoproteasomal subunits (PSMB8, -9, -10) was analyzed by real-time RT-PCR in muscle biopsies and sorted peripheral blood cells of patients with IIM, non-inflammatory myopathies (NIM) and healthy donors (HD). Protein analysis in muscle biopsies was performed by western blot. Affymetrix HG-U133 platform derived transcriptome data from biopsies of different muscle diseases and from immune cell types as well as monocyte stimulation experiments were used for validation, coregulation and coexpression analyses.
Results
Real-time RT-PCR revealed significantly increased expression of immunoproteasomal subunits (PSMB8/-9/-10) in DC, monocytes and CD8+ T-cells in IIM. In muscle biopsies, the immunosubunits were elevated in IIM compared to NIM and exceeded levels of matched blood samples. Proteins of PSMB8 and -9 were found only in IIM but not NIM muscle biopsies. Reanalysis of 78 myositis and 20 healthy muscle transcriptomes confirmed these results and revealed involvement of the antigen processing and presentation pathway. Comparison with reference profiles of sorted immune cells and healthy muscle confirmed upregulation of PSMB8 and -9 in myositis biopsies beyond infiltration related changes. This upregulation correlated highest with STAT1, IRF1 and IFNγ expression. Elevation of T-cell specific transcripts in active IIM muscles was accompanied by increased expression of DC and monocyte marker genes and thus reflects the cell type specific involvement observed in peripheral blood.
Conclusions
Immunoproteasomes seem to indicate IIM activity and suggest that dominant involvement of antigen processing and presentation may qualify these diseases exemplarily for the evolving therapeutic concepts of immunoproteasome specific inhibition.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104048
PMCID: PMC4123911  PMID: 25098831
21.  Inflammation assessment in patients with arthritis using a novel in vivo fluorescence optical imaging technology 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;71(4):504-510.
Background
Indocyanine green (ICG)-enhanced fluorescence optical imaging (FOI) is an established technology for imaging of inflammation in animal models. In experimental models of arthritis, FOI findings corresponded to histologically proven synovitis. This is the first comparative study of FOI with other imaging modalities in humans with arthritis.
Methods
252 FOI examinations (Xiralite system, mivenion GmbH, Berlin, Germany; ICG bolus of 0.1 mg/kg/body weight, sequence of 360 images, one image per second) were compared with clinical examination (CE), ultrasonography (US) and MRI of patients with arthritis of the hands.
Results
In an FOI sequence, three phases could be distinguished (P1–P3). With MRI as reference, FOI had a sensitivity of 76% and a specificity of 54%, while the specificity of phase 1 was 94%. FOI had agreement rates up to 88% versus CE, 64% versus greyscale US, 88% versus power Doppler US and 83% versus MRI, depending on the compared phase and parameter. FOI showed a higher rate of positive results compared to CE, US and MRI. In individual patients, FOI correlated significantly (p<0.05) with disease activity (Disease Activity Score 28, r=0.41), US (r=0.40) and RAMRIS (Rheumatoid Arthritis MRI Score) (r=0.56). FOI was normal in 97.8% of joints of controls.
Conclusion
ICG-enhanced FOI is a new technology offering sensitive imaging detection of inflammatory changes in subjects with arthritis. FOI was more sensitive than CE and had good agreement with CE, US in power Doppler mode and MRI, while showing more positive results than these. An adequate interpretation of an FOI sequence requires a separate evaluation of all phases. For the detection of synovitis and tenosynovitis, FOI appears to be as informative as 1.5 T MRI and US.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2010-148288
PMCID: PMC3298665  PMID: 22388997
22.  A randomised, double-blind, parallel-group study of the safety and efficacy of subcutaneous tocilizumab versus intravenous tocilizumab in combination with traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (SUMMACTA study) 
Objectives
This study compared the efficacy and safety of subcutaneous (SC) versus intravenous (IV) formulations of tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis with an inadequate response to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARD).
Methods
Patients (n=1262) were randomly assigned to receive tocilizumab-SC 162 mg weekly+placebo-IV every 4 weeks or tocilizumab-IV 8 mg/kg every 4 weeks+placebo-SC weekly in combination with traditional DMARD. The primary outcome was to demonstrate the non-inferiority of tocilizumab-SC to tocilizumab-IV with regard to the proportion of patients in each group achieving an American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 20 response at week 24 using a 12% non-inferiority margin (NIM). Secondary outcomes were disease activity score using 28 joints (DAS28), ACR responses, health assessment questionnaire scores and safety assessments.
Results
At week 24, 69.4% (95% CI 65.5 to 73.2) of tocilizumab-SC-treated patients versus 73.4% (95% CI 69.6 to 77.1) of tocilizumab-IV-treated patients achieved an ACR20 response (weighted difference between groups −4.0%, 95% CI −9.2 to 1.2); the 12% NIM was met. ACR50/70 responses, DAS28 and physical function improvements were comparable between the tocilizumab-SC and tocilizumab-IV groups. The safety profiles of tocilizumab-SC and tocilizumab-IV were similar, and the most common adverse event was infection. Injection-site reactions (ISR) occurred more frequently in the tocilizumab-SC group than in the tocilizumab-IV (placebo-SC) group. No anaphylaxis was reported over the 24 weeks.
Conclusions
Tocilizumab-SC 162 mg weekly demonstrated comparable efficacy to tocilizumab-IV 8 mg/kg. The safety profile of tocilizumab-SC is consistent with the known and well-established safety profile of tocilizumab-IV, with the exception of a higher incidence of ISR, which were more common with tocilizumab-SC administration.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-203523
PMCID: PMC3888614  PMID: 23904473
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (biologic); Disease Activity
23.  Rituximab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis in routine practice (GERINIS): six-year results from a prospective, multicentre, non-interventional study in 2,484 patients 
Introduction
The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of rituximab (RTX) in a large cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis in routine care, and to monitor changes in daily practice since the introduction of RTX therapy.
Methods
This was a multicentre, prospective, non-interventional study conducted under routine practice conditions in Germany. Efficacy was evaluated using Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28) and Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI). Safety was assessed by recording adverse drug reactions (ADRs). Physician and patient global efficacy and tolerability assessments were also evaluated.
Results
Overall, 2,484 patients (76.7% female, mean age 56.4 years, mean disease duration 11.7 years) received RTX treatment (22.7% monotherapy). The total observation period was approximately six-years (median follow-up 14.7 months). RTX treatment led to improvements in DAS28 and HAQ-DI that were sustained over multiple courses. DAS28 improvements positively correlated with higher rheumatoid factor levels up to 50 IU/ml. Response and tolerability were rated good/very good by the majority of physicians and patients. Mean treatment intervals were 10.5 and 6.8 months for the first and last 400 enrolled patients, respectively. Infections were the most frequently reported ADRs (9.1%; 11.39/100 patient-years); approximately 1% of patients per course discontinued therapy due to ADRs.
Conclusions
Prolonged RTX treatment in routine care is associated with good efficacy and tolerability, as measured by conventional parameters and by physicians’ and patients’ global assessments. Rheumatoid factor status served as a distinct and quantitative biomarker of RTX responsiveness. With growing experience, physicians repeated treatments earlier in patients with less severe disease activity.
doi:10.1186/ar4521
PMCID: PMC4060207  PMID: 24670196
24.  Safety and effectiveness of adalimumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis over 5 years of therapy in a phase 3b and subsequent postmarketing observational study 
Introduction
Patients with active rheumatoid arthritis who had failed at least one disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) were treated with adalimumab (ADA) in the ReAct study with the option to continue treatment for 5 years in ReAlise. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the long-term safety and effectiveness of ADA as prescribed from the first injection in ReAct to the last observation in ReAlise.
Methods
Patients received ADA alone or in combination with DMARDs according to usual clinical care practices. Adverse events (AEs) were tabulated by five time windows after the first ADA injection. Effectiveness measures included achievement of low disease activity (LDA), defined as Simplified Disease Activity Index (SDAI) ≤11, or remission, (REM), defined as SDAI ≤3.3.
Results
Of the 6,610 ReAct patients, 3,435 (52%) continued in ReAlise. At baseline in ReAct, mean age was 54 years, mean DAS28 was 6.0 and mean HAQ DI was 1.64. The mean treatment duration was 1,016 days, representing 18,272 patient-years (PYs) of ADA exposure. Overall incidence rates of serious AEs and serious infections were 13.8 and 2.8 events (E)/100 PYs, respectively. Serious AEs occurred most frequently in the first 6 months and deceased thereafter. Standardised mortality ratio was 0.71 (95% CI 0.57 to 0.87) and standardised incidence ratio for malignancies was 0.64 (95% CI 0.53 to 0.76). LDA was achieved by 50% and REM by 21% of patients at last observation.
Conclusions
Results of this large observational study of ADA in routine clinical practice were consistent with controlled trials, with no new safety concerns during a follow-up of more than 5 years. Effectiveness of ADA was maintained during long-term observation.
Trial registration
NCT00448383, NCT00234884
doi:10.1186/ar4452
PMCID: PMC3979145  PMID: 24460746
25.  Real-world effectiveness of abatacept for rheumatoid arthritis treatment in European and Canadian populations: a 6-month interim analysis of the 2-year, observational, prospective ACTION study 
Background
Discontinuation of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment for lack or loss of initial response, tolerability issues, or development of antibodies against the therapeutic agent remains a challenge in clinical practice. Here we present a 6-month interim analysis of a 2-year prospective observational trial in Europe and Canada aiming to assess the real-world effectiveness, safety, and tolerability of intravenous abatacept for the treatment of moderate-to-severe RA.
Methods
ACTION (AbataCepT In rOutiNe clinical practice) is a prospective, observational study assessing effectiveness, safety, and tolerability of abatacept in patients with RA enrolled in Europe and Canada between May 2008 and January 2011. The patient population was divided into two groups: biologic naïve (‘first-line’) patients and patients who had previously failed treatment with at least one biologic agent (‘second-line’). Retention rates were calculated using Kaplan–Meier curve estimates. Effectiveness was measured using European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria, the 28-item Disease Activity Score, the Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI), and physical function, as assessed by the Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI). Serious adverse events (SAEs) were reported for all enrolled patients.
Results
Of 1138 consecutively enrolled patients, 1114 and 1079 patients were evaluable for retention and effectiveness, respectively. Overall, retention rates were 88.6% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 86.4, 90.4); 67.4% of patients achieved good/moderate EULAR response; 32.8% had a CDAI Low Disease Activity State (LDAS); and 44.7% a HAQ-DI response. Retention rates among first- and second-line patients were 93.0% (95% CI: 85.9, 96.6) and 88.1% (95% CI: 85.7, 90.0), respectively. The percentage of patients achieving CDAI LDAS was 40.0% (95% CI: 26.4, 53.6) for first- and 32.2% (95% CI: 28.4, 36.0) for second-line patients and the proportion achieving a HAQ-DI response was 60.3% (95% CI: 47.8, 72.9) versus 43.1% (95% CI: 39.0, 47.2), respectively. The incidence of SAEs was 4.7%.
Conclusions
Evidence from this 6-month interim analysis suggests that abatacept offers an effective and well-tolerated treatment option for patients with RA, including those who have previously failed anti-tumor necrosis factor treatment. In addition, higher retention rates and effectiveness outcomes were observed when abatacept treatment was initiated earlier in the course of the disease.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-14
PMCID: PMC3898027  PMID: 24410774
Rheumatoid arthritis; Biological agents; Abatacept; Effectiveness; Safety; Registries

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