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1.  The new 2012 German recommendations for treating rheumatoid arthritis 
The German Society for Rheumatology recently published guidelines for the sequential therapy of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These recommendations were developed as a transition from the 2010 EULAR (EUropean League Against Rheumatism) recommendations to the national clinical practice and are based on an updated systematic literature research and expert discussion. While most EULAR recommendations have remained unchanged, some were modified based on new evidence from randomized, controlled trials, current clinical practice, or national drug approval status. The guidelines also include a treatment algorithm for sequential therapy of RA with disease-modifying agents including biologics.
doi:10.1007/s00393-012-1093-6
PMCID: PMC3567332  PMID: 23392597
Rheumatoid arthritis; Therapy; Guideline; Recommendation; Biologics; DMARDS; Rheumatoide Arthritis; Therapie; Leitlinie; Empfehlung; Biologika ; Basistherapeutika
2.  Multinational evidence-based recommendations on how to investigate and follow-up undifferentiated peripheral inflammatory arthritis: integrating systematic literature research and expert opinion of a broad international panel of rheumatologists in the 3E Initiative 
Objective
To develop evidence-based recommendations on how to investigate and follow-up undifferentiated peripheral inflammatory arthritis (UPIA).
Methods
697 rheumatologists from 17 countries participated in the 3E (Evidence, Expertise, Exchange) Initiative of 2008–9 consisting of three separate rounds of discussions and modified Delphi votes. In the first round 10 clinical questions were selected. A bibliographic team systematically searched Medline, Embase, the Cochrane Library and ACR/EULAR 2007–2008 meeting abstracts. Relevant articles were reviewed for quality assessment, data extraction and synthesis. In the second round each country elaborated a set of national recommendations. Finally, multinational recommendations were formulated and agreement among the participants and the potential impact on their clinical practice was assessed.
Results
A total of 39 756 references were identified, of which 250 were systematically reviewed. Ten multinational key recommendations about the investigation and follow-up of UPIA were formulated. One recommendation addressed differential diagnosis and investigations prior to establishing the operational diagnosis of UPIA, seven recommendations related to the diagnostic and prognostic value of clinical and laboratory assessments in established UPIA (history and physical examination, acute phase reactants, autoantibodies, radiographs, MRI and ultrasound, genetic markers and synovial biopsy), one recommendation highlighted predictors of persistence (chronicity) and the final recommendation addressed monitoring of clinical disease activity in UPIA.
Conclusions
Ten recommendations on how to investigate and follow-up UPIA in the clinical setting were developed. They are evidence-based and supported by a large panel of rheumatologists, thus enhancing their validity and practical use.
doi:10.1136/ard.2010.130625
PMCID: PMC3002765  PMID: 20724311
3.  Clinical risk assessment of organ manifestations in systemic sclerosis: a report from the EULAR Scleroderma Trials And Research group database 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(6):754-763.
Background
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a multisystem autoimmune disease, which is classified into a diffuse cutaneous (dcSSc) and a limited cutaneous (lcSSc) subset according to the skin involvement. In order to better understand the vascular, immunological and fibrotic processes of SSc and to guide its treatment, the EULAR Scleroderma Trials And Research (EUSTAR) group was formed in June 2004.
Aims and methods
EUSTAR collects prospectively the Minimal Essential Data Set (MEDS) on all sequential patients fulfilling the American College of Rheumatology diagnostic criteria in participating centres. We aimed to characterise demographic, clinical and laboratory characteristics of disease presentation in SSc and analysed EUSTAR baseline visits.
Results
In April 2006, a total of 3656 patients (1349 with dcSSc and 2101 with lcSSc) were enrolled in 102 centres and 30 countries. 1330 individuals had autoantibodies against Scl70 and 1106 against anticentromere antibodies. 87% of patients were women. On multivariate analysis, scleroderma subsets (dcSSc vs lcSSc), antibody status and age at onset of Raynaud's phenomenon, but not gender, were found to be independently associated with the prevalence of organ manifestations. Autoantibody status in this analysis was more closely associated with clinical manifestations than were SSc subsets.
Conclusion
dcSSc and lcSSc subsets are associated with particular organ manifestations, but in this analysis the clinical distinction seemed to be superseded by an antibody‐based classification in predicting some scleroderma complications. The EUSTAR MEDS database facilitates the analysis of clinical patterns in SSc, and contributes to the standardised assessment and monitoring of SSc internationally.
doi:10.1136/ard.2006.062901
PMCID: PMC1954657  PMID: 17234652
4.  Resistin in rheumatoid arthritis synovial tissue, synovial fluid and serum 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;66(4):458-463.
Background
Resistin is a newly identified adipocytokine which has demonstrated links between obesity and insulin resistance in rodents. In humans, proinflammatory properties of resistin are superior to its insulin resistance‐inducing effects.
Objectives
To assess resistin expression in synovial tissues, serum and synovial fluid from patients with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and spondylarthropathies (SpA), and to study its relationship with inflammatory status and rheumatoid arthritis disease activity.
Methods
Resistin expression and localisation in synovial tissue was determined by immunohistochemistry and confocal microscopy. Serum and synovial fluid resistin, leptin, interleukin (IL)1β, IL6, IL8, tumour necrosis factor α, and monocyte chemoattractant protein‐1 levels were measured. The clinical activity of patients with rheumatoid arthritis was assessed according to the 28 joint count Disease Activity Score (DAS28).
Results
Resistin was detected in the synovium in both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Staining in the sublining layer was more intensive in patients with rheumatoid arthritis compared with those with osteoarthritis. In rheumatoid arthritis, macrophages (CD68), B lymphocytes (CD20) and plasma cells (CD138) but not T lymphocytes (CD3) showed colocalisation with resistin. Synovial fluid resistin was higher in patients with rheumatoid arthritis than in those with SpA or osteoarthritis (both p<0.001). In patients with rheumatoid arthritis and SpA, serum resistin levels were higher than those with osteoarthritis (p<0.01). Increased serum resistin in patients with rheumatoid arthritis correlated with both CRP (r = 0.53, p<0.02), and DAS28 (r = 0.44, p<0.05), but not with selected (adipo) cytokines.
Conclusion
The upregulated resistin at local sites of inflammation and the link between serum resistin, inflammation and disease activity suggest a role for resistin in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis.
doi:10.1136/ard.2006.054734
PMCID: PMC1856051  PMID: 17040961
5.  Three dimensional power Doppler ultrasonography confirms early reduction of synovial perfusion after intra‐articular steroid injection 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;65(3):411-412.
doi:10.1136/ard.2005.041210
PMCID: PMC1798073  PMID: 16474035
ultrasound; power Doppler sonography; three dimensional imaging; inflammatory arthritis
6.  Sequential Combination Therapy Leading to Sustained Remission in a Patient with SAPHO Syndrome 
The SAPHO syndrome represents a variety of clinically similar disorders with the key features of hyperostotic bone lesions in combination with chronic pustular skin disease. The respective pathophysiology of bone and joint manifestations in SAPHO syndrome is still a matter of discussion. For example it does not appear to represent reactive arthritis and HLA B27 antigen, with the latter being typically present in patients with spondyloarthopathies. Treatment of SAPHO syndrome is also not well established and consists of various antiinflammatory and antirheumatic drugs. Here, we report a female patient with active SAPHO syndrome suffering from sternal swelling of unknown origin that had been known for 10 years and a 4-year-history of severe lower back pain. Remarkable were also a typical pustulous palmar erythema associated with swelling and decreased motility of both MCP-I joints. Inflammation parameters were high with an ESR 68 mm/1st hour and a CRP of 19.6 mg/l. She was initially treated with rofecoxib and doxycycline, followed by sulfasalazine with only partial clinical response. Thereafter, both articular symptoms as well as cutaneous lesions responded well to a combination therapy with methotrexate and sulfasalazine. Thus, the case illustrates nicely that methotrexate in combination with another DMARD can be successfully applied to patients with long-term active SAPHO syndrome.
doi:10.2174/1874312900903010018
PMCID: PMC2684709  PMID: 19471601
Case report; combination therapy; doxycycline; methotrexate; rofecoxib; SAPHO; sulfasalazine; treatment.
7.  Multinational evidence-based recommendations for the use of methotrexate in rheumatic disorders with a focus on rheumatoid arthritis: integrating systematic literature research and expert opinion of a broad international panel of rheumatologists in the 3E Initiative 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2008;68(7):1086-1093.
Objectives:
To develop evidence-based recommendations for the use of methotrexate in daily clinical practice in rheumatic disorders.
Methods:
751 rheumatologists from 17 countries participated in the 3E (Evidence, Expertise, Exchange) Initiative of 2007–8 consisting of three separate rounds of discussions and Delphi votes. Ten clinical questions concerning the use of methotrexate in rheumatic disorders were formulated. A systematic literature search in Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library and 2005–7 American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism meeting abstracts was conducted. Selected articles were systematically reviewed and the evidence was appraised according to the Oxford levels of evidence. Each country elaborated a set of national recommendations. Finally, multinational recommendations were formulated and agreement among the participants and the potential impact on their clinical practice was assessed.
Results:
A total of 16 979 references was identified, of which 304 articles were included in the systematic reviews. Ten multinational key recommendations on the use of methotrexate were formulated. Nine recommendations were specific for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), including the work-up before initiating methotrexate, optimal dosage and route, use of folic acid, monitoring, management of hepatotoxicity, long-term safety, mono versus combination therapy and management in the perioperative period and before/during pregnancy. One recommendation concerned methotrexate as a steroid-sparing agent in other rheumatic diseases.
Conclusions:
Ten recommendations for the use of methotrexate in daily clinical practice focussed on RA were developed, which are evidence based and supported by a large panel of rheumatologists, enhancing their validity and practical use.
doi:10.1136/ard.2008.094474
PMCID: PMC2689523  PMID: 19033291
8.  The registry of the German Network for Systemic Scleroderma: frequency of disease subsets and patterns of organ involvement 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2008;47(8):1185-1192.
Objective. Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a rare, heterogeneous disease, which affects different organs and therefore requires interdisciplinary diagnostic and therapeutic management. To improve the detection and follow-up of patients presenting with different disease manifestations, an interdisciplinary registry was founded with contributions from different subspecialties involved in the care of patients with SSc.
Methods. A questionnaire was developed to collect a core set of clinical data to determine the current disease status. Patients were grouped into five descriptive disease subsets, i.e. lcSSc, dcSSc, SSc sine scleroderma, overlap-syndrome and UCTD with scleroderma features.
Results. Of the 1483 patients, 45.5% of patients had lcSSc and 32.7% dcSSc. Overlap syndrome was diagnosed in 10.9% of patients, while 8.8% had an undifferentiated form. SSc sine scleroderma was present in 1.5% of patients. Organ involvement was markedly different between subsets; pulmonary fibrosis for instance was significantly more frequent in dcSSc (56.1%) than in overlap syndrome (30.6%) or lcSSc (20.8%). Pulmonary hypertension was more common in dcSSc (18.5%) compared with lcSSc (14.9%), overlap syndrome (8.2%) and undifferentiated disease (4.1%). Musculoskeletal involvement was typical for overlap syndromes (67.6%). A family history of rheumatic disease was reported in 17.2% of patients and was associated with early disease onset (P < 0.005).
Conclusion. In this nationwide register, a descriptive classification of patients with disease manifestations characteristic of SSc in five groups allows to include a broader spectrum of patients with features of SSc.
doi:10.1093/rheumatology/ken179
PMCID: PMC2468885  PMID: 18515867
Systemic sclerosis; Scleroderma; Connective tissue disease; Overlap syndrome; Undifferentiated disease
9.  Gene expression pattern of laser microdissected colonic crypts of adenomas with low grade dysplasia 
Gut  2003;52(8):1148-1153.
Background and aims: Colorectal epithelial cells are prone to malignant transformation. Therefore, identification of differences in gene expression in the process from normal colonic crypts to adenomas with low grade dysplasia is essential for further insights into early tumorigenesis. To achieve this goal, a novel gene expression analysis strategy, screening for expressed transcripts in small histologically defined tissue samples, was performed.
Methods: First, laser mediated microdissection was used to isolate normal and adenomatous crypts from colonic cryosections. Then, nested RNA arbitrarily primed polymerase chain reaction (RAP-PCR) for differential display was performed to screen mRNA populations and to generate hybridisation probes for cDNA expression arrays. After evaluation of cDNA expression arrays, differential expression was confirmed at the protein level by immunohistochemistry.
Results: Evaluation of gene expression profiles of normal versus adenomatous colonic crypts of six different patients revealed, in general, dysregulation of up to 11% of all analysed genes (total number n=588): specifically, p21-rac1 was upregulated in four of six patients, mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) p38α in three of six patients, and interferon γ receptor in three of six patients. Conversely, FAST kinase was found to be downregulated in three of six patients, p53 in three of six patients, and thrombospondin 2 in three of six patients.
Conclusions: For the first time, distinct gene expression profiles of dysplastic areas within colonic adenomas, using the combination of laser mediated microdissection with RAP-PCR and cDNA expression array, were shown. In these samples, upregulation of proliferation associated genes (ras-oncogene related p21-rac1 and MAPK p38α) as well as downregulation of apoptosis related genes (FAST kinase and p53) most likely reflects specific alterations in adenomas with low grade dysplasia. Based on upregulation of p21-rac1 and MAPK p38α, activation of the MAPK pathway appears to be an early event in colonic carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC1773735  PMID: 12865273
laser mediated microdissection; gene expression pattern; adenomas; low grade dysplasia; RAS/MAPK pathway

Results 1-18 (18)