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1.  Sequential high-content profiling of the IgG-autoantibody repertoire reveals novel antigens in rheumatoid arthritis 
Background
The aim was to identify novel diagnostic autoantibody candidates for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by comprehensive screening for autoreactivity.
Method
We incubated 5892 recombinant proteins coupled to fluorescent beads, with patients’ sera for the detection of IgG-autoantibodies in three independent patient cohorts: A (n = 72 patients with established RA); B/B- (n = 116 patients with early RA (B) and n = 51 CCP-negative patients with early RA from B (B-)); and C (n = 184 patients with early seronegative RA), in comparison to matched healthy controls. Intersects of significantly increased autoantibodies as determined by the Mann-Whitney test were sought.
Result
Screening of 5892 antigens in RA cohorts A and B, or the seronegative cohorts B- and C revealed intersects of 23 and 13 significantly increased autoantibodies, respectively. Reactivity to three antigens was increased in all cohorts tested: N-acetylglucosamine-1-phosphate transferase, gamma subunit (GNPTG), heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1-like 2 (HNRNPA1), and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 2 (IGFBP2).
Conclusions
Comprehensive sequential screening for autoantibodies reveals novel candidates for diagnostic markers in both seropositive and seronegative RA and suggests new fields of research into the pathogenesis of RA.
doi:10.1186/s13075-016-1135-6
PMCID: PMC5059912  PMID: 27729089
Rheumatoid arthritis; Autoantibody; Biomarker
2.  Induction maintenance with tumour necrosis factor-inhibitor combination therapy with discontinuation versus methotrexate monotherapy in early rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of efficacy in randomised controlled trials 
RMD Open  2016;2(2):e000323.
Objective
To determine whether an induction-maintenance strategy of combined therapy (methotrexate (MTX)+tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor (TNFi)) followed by withdrawal of TNFi could yield better long-term results than a strategy with MTX monotherapy, since it is unclear if the benefits from an induction phase with combined therapy are sustained if TNFi is withdrawn.
Methods
We performed a meta-analysis of trials using the initial combination of MTX+TNFi in conventional synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug-naïve patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A systematic literature search was performed for induction-maintenance randomised controlled trials (RCTs) where initial combination therapy was compared with MTX monotherapy in patients with clinically active early RA. Our primary outcome was the proportion of patients who achieved low disease activity (LDA; Disease Activity Score (DAS)28<3.2) and/or remission (DAS28<2.6) at 12–76 weeks of follow-up. A random-effects model was used to pool the risk ratio (RR) for LDA and remission and heterogeneity was explored by subgroup analyses.
Results
We identified 6 published RCTs, 4 of them where MTX+adalimumab was given as initial therapy and where adalimumab was withdrawn in a subset of patients after LDA/remission had been achieved. 2 additional trials used MTX+infliximab as combination therapy. The pooled RRs for achieving LDA and clinical remission at follow-up after withdrawal of TNFi were 1.41 (95% CI 1.05 to 1.89) and 1.34 (95% CI 0.95 to 1.89), respectively. There was significant heterogeneity between trials due to different treatment strategies, which was a limitation to this study.
Conclusions
Initial therapy with MTX+TNFi is associated with a higher chance of retaining LDA and/or remission even after discontinuation of TNFi.
doi:10.1136/rmdopen-2016-000323
PMCID: PMC5013458  PMID: 27651929
Early Rheumatoid Arthritis; Anti-TNF; Treatment; Methotrexate; Disease Activity
3.  Sustained Increase of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels in Healthy Young Women during Wintertime after Three Suberythemal UV Irradiations—The MUVY Pilot Study 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(7):e0159040.
Objectives
Vitamin D (VitD) deficiency is a health problem prevalent not only in the elderly but also in young adults. The primary objective of our observational pilot study “MUVY” (Mood, UVR, Vitamin D in Young women) was to test both the short-term and long-term effects of a series of three suberythemal UV radiation (UVR) exposures on the VitD status and well-being of young healthy women during winter in a repeat measure design.
Methods
20 healthy young women (Fitzpatrick skin types I–III, aged 21–25 years) received three full body broad band UVR exposures with an escalating erythemally weighted dose schedule during one week in winter, and completed self-report questionnaires monitoring symptoms of depression (Beck Depression Inventory, BDI) and affective state/well-being (Profile of Mood States, POMS) at baseline and three days after the last UVR exposure. 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D) were measured in serum at baseline, and at study days 8, 36 and 50.
Results
Mean baseline 25(OH)D level was 54.3 nmol/L (standard deviation (s.d.) = 24.1), with seven women having VitD deficient status. Relevant symptoms of depression, as indicated by low BDI total scores (0–8), were absent. After the three UVR exposures the increment of 25(OH)D was an average of 13.9 nmol/L (95% confidence interval (CI) = 9.4–18.4) and 26.2 pmol/L (95%CI = 7.2–45.1) for 1,25(OH)2D. Δ25(OH)D, and corresponding baseline levels were significantly and inversely associated (rho = -0.493, p = 0.027). Only 25(OH)D remained significantly increased above baseline for at least six weeks after the last UVR exposure. A strong inverse correlation of the POMS subscale “Vigor/Activity” and the increment in 1,25(OH)2D was found (rho = -0.739, p<0.001) at day 8.
Conclusions
Three suberythemal whole body UVR exposures during one week are a simple and suitable method for improving 25(OH)D levels during winter, for at least six weeks, and especially in young women with VitD deficient status.
Trial Registration
German Clinical Trials Register (Deutsches Register Kinischer Studien) DRKS00009274
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0159040
PMCID: PMC4951026  PMID: 27434043
4.  Biologic monotherapy in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis 
Biologics, possibly in combination with a conventional disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) – preferably methotrexate (MTX), are used in accordance with the recommendations of the international rheumatological societies. However, in clinical practice, this recommendation is often problematic, as many rheumatologists know from personal experience. The quality of life of the patient is affected mainly by drug-induced intolerances (eg, MTX). Thus, the acceptance of the patient to treatment is often so inadequate that a discontinuation of the drug is necessary. In daily practice, approximately 30% of patients with biological therapy receive no concomitant DMARD according to the register data.
Video abstract
doi:10.2147/BTT.S53361
PMCID: PMC4440355  PMID: 26028960
efficacy; safety; methotrexate; autoimmune disease
5.  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
6.  Determinants of Discordance in Patients’ and Physicians’ Rating of Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease Activity 
Arthritis care & research  2012;64(2):206-214.
Objective
To assess the determinants of patients’ (PTGL) and physicians’ (MDGL) global assessment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) activity and factors associated with discordance among them.
Methods
A total of 7,028 patients in the Quantitative Standard Monitoring of Patients with RA study had PTGL and MDGL assessed at the same clinic visit on a 0–10-cm visual analog scale (VAS). Three patient groups were defined: concordant rating group (PTGL and MDGL within ±2 cm), higher patient rating group (PTGL exceeding MDGL by >2 cm), and lower patient rating group (PTGL less than MDGL by >2 cm). Multivariable regression analysis was used to identify determinants of PTGL and MDGL and their discordance.
Results
The mean ± SD VAS scores for PTGL and MDGL were 4.01 ± 2.70 and 2.91 ± 2.37, respectively. Pain was overwhelmingly the single most important determinant of PTGL, followed by fatigue. In contrast, MDGL was most influenced by swollen joint count (SJC), followed by erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and tender joint count (TJC). A total of 4,454 (63.4%), 2,106 (30%), and 468 (6.6%) patients were in the concordant, higher, and lower patient rating groups, respectively. Odds of higher patient rating increased with higher pain, fatigue, psychological distress, age, and morning stiffness, and decreased with higher SJC, TJC, and ESR. Lower patient rating odds increased with higher SJC, TJC, and ESR, and decreased with lower fatigue levels.
Conclusion
Nearly 36% of patients had discordance in RA activity assessment from their physicians. Sensitivity to the “disease experience” of patients, particularly pain and fatigue, is warranted for effective care of RA.
doi:10.1002/acr.20685
PMCID: PMC3703925  PMID: 22052672
7.  The association between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease 
Chronic, plaque-associated inflammation of the gingiva and the periodontium are among the most common oral diseases. Periodontitis (PD) is characterized by the inflammatory destruction of the periodontal attachment and alveolar bone, and its clinical appearance can be influenced by congenital as well as acquired factors. The existence of a rheumatic or other inflammatory systemic disease may promote PD in both its emergence and progress. However, there is evidence that PD maintains systemic diseases. Nevertheless, many mechanisms in the pathogenesis have not yet been examined sufficiently, so that a final explanatory model is still under discussion, and we hereby present arguments in favor of this. In this review, we also discuss in detail the fact that oral bacterial infections and inflammation seem to be linked directly to the etiopathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There are findings that support the hypothesis that oral infections play a role in RA pathogenesis. Of special importance are the impact of periodontal pathogens, such as Porphyromonas gingivalis on citrullination, and the association of PD in RA patients with seropositivity toward rheumatoid factor and the anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody.
doi:10.1186/ar3106
PMCID: PMC2990988  PMID: 21062513
8.  Prevalence of comorbidities in rheumatoid arthritis and evaluation of their monitoring: results of an international, cross-sectional study (COMORA) 
Background
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at increased risk of developing comorbid conditions.
Objectives
To evaluate the prevalence of comorbidities and compare their management in RA patients from different countries worldwide.
Methods
Study design: international, cross-sectional. Patients: consecutive RA patients. Data collected: demographics, disease characteristics (activity, severity, treatment), comorbidities (cardiovascular, infections, cancer, gastrointestinal, pulmonary, osteoporosis and psychiatric disorders).
Results
Of 4586 patients recruited in 17 participating countries, 3920 were analysed (age, 56±13 years; disease duration, 10±9 years (mean±SD); female gender, 82%; DAS28 (Disease Activity Score using 28 joints)–erythrocyte sedimentation rate, 3.7±1.6 (mean±SD); Health Assessment Questionnaire, 1.0±0.7 (mean±SD); past or current methotrexate use, 89%; past or current use of biological agents, 39%. The most frequently associated diseases (past or current) were: depression, 15%; asthma, 6.6%; cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke), 6%; solid malignancies (excluding basal cell carcinoma), 4.5%; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 3.5%. High intercountry variability was observed for both the prevalence of comorbidities and the proportion of subjects complying with recommendations for preventing and managing comorbidities. The systematic evaluation of comorbidities in this study detected abnormalities in vital signs, such as elevated blood pressure in 11.2%, and identified conditions that manifest as laboratory test abnormalities, such as hyperglycaemia in 3.3% and hyperlipidaemia in 8.3%.
Conclusions
Among RA patients, there is a high prevalence of comorbidities and their risk factors. In this multinational sample, variability among countries was wide, not only in prevalence but also in compliance with recommendations for preventing and managing these comorbidities. Systematic measurement of vital signs and laboratory testing detects otherwise unrecognised comorbid conditions.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204223
PMCID: PMC3888623  PMID: 24095940
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Cardiovascular Disease; Epidemiology; Lipids; Vaccination

Results 1-8 (8)