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1.  The Role of Genetic Variants in CRP in Radiographic Severity in African Americans with Early and Established Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Genes and immunity  2015;16(7):446-451.
This study investigates the association of CRP single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with plasma CRP levels and radiographic severity in African Americans with early and established rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Using a cross-sectional case-only design, CRP SNPs were genotyped in two independent sets of African Americans with RA: Consortium for the Longitudinal Evaluation of African Americans with RA (CLEAR 1) and CLEAR 2. Radiographic data and CRP measurements were available in 294 individuals from CLEAR 1 [median (IQR 25-75) disease duration of 1 (0.6-1.6) year] and in 407 persons from CLEAR 2 [median (IQR 25-75) disease duration of 8.9 (3.5 – 17.7) years]. In CLEAR 1, in adjusted models, the minor allele of rs2808630 was associated with total radiographic score [incident rate ratio (IRR) 0.37 (95% CI 0.19-0.74), p value =0.0051]. In CLEAR 2, the minor allele of rs3093062 was associated with increased plasma CRP levels (p value =0.002). For each rs3093062 minor allele, the plasma CRP increased by 1.51 (95% CI 1.15-1.95) mg/dL when all the other covariates remained constant. These findings have important implications for assessment of the risk of joint damage in African Americans with RA.
PMCID: PMC4707038  PMID: 26226010
C reactive protein; genetics; rheumatoid arthritis; joint damage; radiography
2.  Generalized Bone Loss as a Predictor of 3-Year Radiographic Damage in African American Patients with Recent-Onset Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(8):2219-2226.
To examine the association between baseline bone mineral density (BMD) and radiographic damage at 3-year disease duration in a longitudinal cohort of African Americans (AAs) with recent-onset RA.
Participants (n=141) included AAs with < 2 years of disease duration. All patients underwent baseline BMD measurement (femoral neck and/or lumbar spine) using DXA. T-scores were calculated using AAs normative data. Patients were categorized as having osteopenia/osteoporosis (T score ≤ −1) or healthy. Hand/wrist radiographs, obtained at baseline and at 3-year disease duration, were scored using modified Sharp/van der Heijde method. The association between baseline BMD and total radiographic score at 3-year disease duration was examined using multivariable negative binomial regression.
At baseline, the mean age and disease duration were 52.4 years and 14.8 months respectively (85.1% women). Average total radiographic scores at baseline and 3-year disease duration were 2.4 and 5.7. In the final reduced multivariable model adjusting for age, gender, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody positivity, and the presence of radiographic damage at baseline, the total radiographic score at 3-years of disease duration in patients with osteopenia/osteoporosis at the femoral neck was twice that in patients with healthy bone density and the difference was statistically significant (p=0.0084). No association between lumbar spine osteopenia/osteoporosis and radiographic score was found.
These findings suggest that reduced generalized BMD may be a predictor of future radiographic damage and support the hypothesis that radiographic damage and reduced generalized BMD in RA patients may share a common pathogenic mechanism.
PMCID: PMC2922001  PMID: 20506234
3.  Association of a Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism in CD40 With the Rate of Joint Destruction in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2009;60(8):2242-2247.
The severity of joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is highly variable from patient to patient and is influenced by genetic factors. Genome-wide association studies have enormously boosted the field of the genetics of RA susceptibility, but risk loci for RA severity remain poorly defined. A recent meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies identified 6 genetic regions for susceptibility to autoantibody-positive RA: CD40, KIF5A/PIP4K2C, CDK6, CCL21, PRKCQ, and MMEL1/TNFRSF14. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether these newly described genetic regions are associated with the rate of joint destruction.
RA patients enrolled in the Leiden Early Arthritis Clinic were studied (n = 563). Yearly radiographs were scored using the Sharp/van der Heijde method (median followup 5 years; maximum followup 9 years). The rate of joint destruction between genotype groups was compared using a linear mixed model, correcting for age, sex, and treatment strategies. A total of 393 anti–citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA)–positive RA patients from the North American Rheumatoid Arthritis Consortium (NARAC) who had radiographic data available were used for the replication study.
The TT and CC/CG genotypes of 2 single-nucleotide polymorphisms, rs4810485 (CD40) and rs42041 (CDK6), respectively, were associated with a higher rate of joint destruction in ACPA-positive RA patients (P = 0.003 and P = 0.012, respectively), with rs4810485 being significant after Bonferroni correction for multiple testing. The association of the CD40 minor allele with the rate of radiographic progression was replicated in the NARAC cohort (P = 0.021).
A polymorphism in the CD40 locus is associated with the rate of joint destruction in patients with ACPA-positive RA. Our findings provide one of the first non–HLA-related genetic severity factors that has been replicated.
PMCID: PMC3121053  PMID: 19644859
4.  Radiographic Severity of Rheumatoid Arthritis in African-Americans: Results from the CLEAR Registry 
Arthritis care & research  2010;62(5):624-631.
To describe radiographic changes in African-Americans with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) from the CLEAR (Consortium for the Longitudinal Evaluation of African-Americans with Early Rheumatoid Arthritis) Registry, a multicenter observational study.
Self-declared African-American patients, were enrolled in CLEAR I, a longitudinal cohort of early RA (disease duration <2 years) from 2000 to 2005; or in CLEAR II, a cross-sectional cohort (any disease duration), from 2006 to the present. Demographic and clinical data were obtained, and sets of hand/wrist and foot radiographs were scored using the modified Sharp/van der Heijde scoring system.
A total of 357 and 418 patients, respectively, have been enrolled into CLEAR I and CLEAR II. We report here an interim analysis of radiographic severity in these patients. For the CLEAR I cohort, 294 patients had a mean radiographic score of 2.89 at the baseline visit; 32.0% showed either erosions (25.9%) or joint space narrowing (JSN) (19.4%). At the 36-month visit the mean score was 5.65; 44.2% had erosions, 41.5% JSN and 55.4% had either. Among those patients without radiographic damage at baseline, 18.9% had progressed at the 36-month visit, compared to 57.1% of those with baseline damage (p<0.0001). For the CLEAR II cohort, 167 patients with RA of any duration, 65.3% exhibited joint erosions, 65.3% JSN and 74.8% exhibited either. The mean radiographic score was 33.42.
This is the largest radiographic study of African American RA patients. Damage occurs early in the disease and is associated with radiographic progression at 3 years of disease duration. The CLEAR Registry will provide a valuable resource for future analyses of genetic, clinical, and environmental factors associated with radiographic severity of RA in African-Americans.
PMCID: PMC3052790  PMID: 20461784
5.  Association of IL4R single-nucleotide polymorphisms with rheumatoid nodules in African Americans with rheumatoid arthritis 
To determine whether IL4R single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) rs1805010 (I50V) and rs1801275 (Q551R), which have been associated with disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients of European ancestry, relate to the presence of rheumatoid nodules and radiographic erosions in African Americans.
Two IL4R SNPs, rs1805010 and rs1801275, were genotyped in 749 patients from the Consortium for Longitudinal Evaluation of African-Americans with Early Rheumatoid Arthritis (CLEAR) registries. End points were rheumatoid nodules defined as present either by physical examination or by chest radiography and radiographic erosions (radiographs of hands/wrists and feet were scored using the modified Sharp/van der Heijde system). Statistical analyses were performed by using logistic regression modeling adjusted for confounding factors.
Of the 749 patients with RA, 156 (20.8%) had rheumatoid nodules, with a mean age of 47.0 years, 84.6% female gender, and median disease duration of 1.9 years. Of the 461 patients with available radiographic data, 185 (40.1%) had erosions (score >0); their mean age was 46.7 years; 83.3% were women; and median disease duration was 1.5 years. Patients positive for HLA-DRB1 shared epitope (SE) and autoantibodies (rheumatoid factor (RF) or anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP)) had a higher risk of developing rheumatoid nodules in the presence of the AA and AG alleles of rs1801275 (odds ratio (OR)adj = 8.08 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.60-40.89), P = 0.01 and ORadj = 2.97 (95% CI, 1.08 to 8.17), P = 0.04, respectively). Likewise, patients positive for the HLA-DRB1 SE and RF alone had a higher risk of developing rheumatoid nodules in presence of the AA and AG alleles of rs1801275 (ORadj = 8.45 (95% CI, 1.57 to 45.44), P = 0.01, and ORadj = 3.57 (95% CI, 1.18 to 10.76), P = 0.02, respectively) and in the presence of AA allele of rs1805010 (ORadj = 4.52 (95% CI, 1.20 to 17.03), P = 0.03). No significant association was found between IL4R and radiographic erosions or disease susceptibility, although our statistical power was limited by relatively small numbers of cases and controls.
We found that IL4R SNPs, rs1801275 and rs1805010, are associated with rheumatoid nodules in autoantibody-positive African-American RA patients with at least one HLA-DRB1 allele encoding the SE. These findings highlight the need for analysis of genetic factors associated with clinical RA phenotypes in different racial/ethnic populations.
PMCID: PMC2911851  PMID: 20444266
6.  The prognostic value of baseline erosions in undifferentiated arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(5):R155.
Undifferentiated arthritis (UA) has a variable disease course; 40 to 50% of UA patients remit spontaneously, while 30% develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Identifying the UA patients who will develop RA is essential to initiate early disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) therapy. Although the presence of bone erosions at baseline is predictive for a severe destructive disease course in RA, the prognostic importance of erosive joints for disease outcome in UA is unknown. This study evaluates the predictive value of erosive joints for the disease outcome in UA as measured by RA development and disease persistency.
Baseline hands and feet radiographs of 518 UA patients were evaluated for erosions using a clinical definition as well as the Sharp/van der Heijde method. After 1 year follow-up, patients were re-assessed for the fulfilment of the 1987 ACR classification criteria for RA. Disease persistency was defined as the absence of sustained remission during all available follow-up (mean 8 ± 3 years).
At baseline, 28.6% of UA patients had erosive joints. Presence of ≥2 erosive joints showed a positive predictive value for RA development of 53% and for persistent disease of 68%. Patients with erosions that did not develop RA were less often anticyclic citrullinated peptide antibody (ACPA)+ve, rheumatoid factor (RF)+ve and had lower C-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocytic sedimentation rate (ESR) and number of swollen joints compared to those who developed RA. Feet erosions are equally predictive compared to erosions at hands.
Presence of ≥2 erosive joints at baseline in UA patients gives a risk for RA development of 53% and for persistent disease of 68%, indicating that erosions in UA are not always predictive for unfavorable disease outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2787272  PMID: 19832979
7.  Physical function, disease activity, and health-related quality-of-life outcomes after 3 years of adalimumab treatment in patients with ankylosing spondylitis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(4):R124.
We evaluated the three-year impact of adalimumab on patient-reported physical function and health-related quality-of-life (HRQOL) outcomes in patients with active ankylosing spondylitis (AS).
The Adalimumab Trial Evaluating Long-Term Efficacy and Safety in AS (ATLAS) is an ongoing five-year study that included an initial 24-week, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind period, followed by open-label extension treatment with adalimumab. Clinical and HRQOL data collected for up to three years from ATLAS were used for these analyses. Patients were randomized to receive adalimumab 40 mg or placebo by subcutaneous injection every other week. Physical function was assessed by the Bath AS Functional Index (BASFI), as well as by the Short Form 36 (SF-36) Health Survey Physical Component Summary (PCS) and Physical Function subscale scores. HRQOL was assessed using the AS Quality of Life (ASQOL) questionnaire. Disease activity was assessed by the Bath AS Disease Activity Index (BASDAI).
Of 315 patients enrolled in ATLAS, 288 (91%) participated in an open-label adalimumab treatment extension and 82% provided three-year outcome data. During the 24-week double-blind phase, adalimumab-treated patients experienced significant improvement compared with placebo-treated patients in the BASDAI (P < 0.001), BASFI (P < 0.001), ASQOL (P < 0.001), and both the SF-36 PCS (P < 0.001) and Physical Function subscale (P < 0.001) scores, but not the SF-36 Mental Component Summary score (P = 0.181) and Mental Health subscale scores (P = 0.551). Mean changes from baseline through three years of adalimumab treatment were statistically significant for the BASDAI (change score: -3.9, P < 0.001), BASFI (change score: -29.6, P < 0.001), SF-36 PCS (change score: 11.6, P < 0.001), and Physical Function (change score: 23.3, P < 0.001). Comparable results were observed for the other SF-36 scores and for the ASQOL (all P < 0.001).
Adalimumab significantly improved disease activity, patient-reported physical function, and HRQOL. These benefits were maintained over three years of treatment in patients with AS.
Trial registration NCT00085644.
PMCID: PMC2745808  PMID: 19686597
8.  Association of joint space narrowing with impairment of physical function and work ability in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis: protection beyond disease control by adalimumab plus methotrexate 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(7):1156-1162.
Tumour necrosis factor inhibition plus methotrexate is believed to inhibit radiographic progression independent of inflammation. This analysis assessed whether these protective effects are exerted on bone (joint erosion; JE) and/or cartilage (joint space narrowing; JSN), and what the independent effects of JE/JSN progression are on longer-term patient-reported outcomes.
PREMIER was a 2-year, randomised, controlled trial of adalimumab plus methotrexate (ADA+MTX) versus the monotherapies. The impact of treatment on the relationships between time-averaged disease activity (TA-DAS28(CRP)) and changes in JE/JSN and associations of JE/JSN with the disability index of the health assessment questionnaire (HAQ-DI) at baseline and weeks 52 and 104 were assessed through non-parametric approaches of analysis of variance and quantile regression. JE/JSN association with employment status was evaluated at baseline and weeks 52 and 104 through logistic regression.
Increasing tertiles of TA-DAS28(CRP) were associated with JE and JSN progression in the monotherapy groups, a phenomenon largely absent in ADA+MTX-treated patients. Although JSN was not associated with HAQ-DI at baseline, it was at 52 and 104 weeks. In contrast, JE was not associated with HAQ-DI at any time point examined. Odds of being employed at baseline, 52 weeks and 104 weeks were significantly associated with lower JSN, but not JE, scores.
ADA+MTX inhibited both JE and JSN progression independently of disease activity. JSN played a more prominent role in patient-reported outcomes than JE. Preventing the onset or worsening of JSN probably represents a critical aspect of effective disease management of early rheumatoid arthritis patients.
PMCID: PMC3686261  PMID: 22915617
9.  Multinational evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and management of gout: integrating systematic literature review and expert opinion of a broad panel of rheumatologists in the 3e initiative 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;73(2):328-335.
We aimed to develop evidence-based multinational recommendations for the diagnosis and management of gout. Using a formal voting process, a panel of 78 international rheumatologists developed 10 key clinical questions pertinent to the diagnosis and management of gout. Each question was investigated with a systematic literature review. Medline, Embase, Cochrane CENTRAL and abstracts from 2010–2011 European League Against Rheumatism and American College of Rheumatology meetings were searched in each review. Relevant studies were independently reviewed by two individuals for data extraction and synthesis and risk of bias assessment. Using this evidence, rheumatologists from 14 countries (Europe, South America and Australasia) developed national recommendations. After rounds of discussion and voting, multinational recommendations were formulated. Each recommendation was graded according to the level of evidence. Agreement and potential impact on clinical practice were assessed. Combining evidence and clinical expertise, 10 recommendations were produced. One recommendation referred to the diagnosis of gout, two referred to cardiovascular and renal comorbidities, six focused on different aspects of the management of gout (including drug treatment and monitoring), and the last recommendation referred to the management of asymptomatic hyperuricaemia. The level of agreement with the recommendations ranged from 8.1 to 9.2 (mean 8.7) on a 1–10 scale, with 10 representing full agreement. Ten recommendations on the diagnosis and management of gout were established. They are evidence-based and supported by a large panel of rheumatologists from 14 countries, enhancing their utility in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3913257  PMID: 23868909
Gout; Treatment; Synovial fluid

Results 1-9 (9)