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1.  EULAR recommendations for the management of rheumatoid arthritis with synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs: 2013 update 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;73(3):492-509.
In this article, the 2010 European League against Rheumatism (EULAR) recommendations for the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (sDMARDs and bDMARDs, respectively) have been updated. The 2013 update has been developed by an international task force, which based its decisions mostly on evidence from three systematic literature reviews (one each on sDMARDs, including glucocorticoids, bDMARDs and safety aspects of DMARD therapy); treatment strategies were also covered by the searches. The evidence presented was discussed and summarised by the experts in the course of a consensus finding and voting process. Levels of evidence and grades of recommendations were derived and levels of agreement (strengths of recommendations) were determined. Fourteen recommendations were developed (instead of 15 in 2010). Some of the 2010 recommendations were deleted, and others were amended or split. The recommendations cover general aspects, such as attainment of remission or low disease activity using a treat-to-target approach, and the need for shared decision-making between rheumatologists and patients. The more specific items relate to starting DMARD therapy using a conventional sDMARD (csDMARD) strategy in combination with glucocorticoids, followed by the addition of a bDMARD or another csDMARD strategy (after stratification by presence or absence of adverse risk factors) if the treatment target is not reached within 6 months (or improvement not seen at 3 months). Tumour necrosis factor inhibitors (adalimumab, certolizumab pegol, etanercept, golimumab, infliximab, biosimilars), abatacept, tocilizumab and, under certain circumstances, rituximab are essentially considered to have similar efficacy and safety. If the first bDMARD strategy fails, any other bDMARD may be used. The recommendations also address tofacitinib as a targeted sDMARD (tsDMARD), which is recommended, where licensed, after use of at least one bDMARD. Biosimilars are also addressed. These recommendations are intended to inform rheumatologists, patients, national rheumatology societies and other stakeholders about EULAR's most recent consensus on the management of RA with sDMARDs, glucocorticoids and bDMARDs. They are based on evidence and expert opinion and intended to improve outcome in patients with RA.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204573
PMCID: PMC3933074  PMID: 24161836
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (synthetic); DMARDs (biologic); Treatment; Early Rheumatoid Arthritis
2.  Acute murine antigen-induced arthritis is not affected by disruption of osteoblastic glucocorticoid signalling 
Background
The role of endogenous glucocorticoids (GC) in the initiation and maintenance of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remains unclear. We demonstrated previously that disruption of GC signalling in osteoblasts results in a profound attenuation of K/BxN serum-induced arthritis, a mouse model of RA. To determine whether or not the modulation of the inflammatory response by osteoblasts involves T cells, we studied the effects of disrupted osteoblastic GC-signalling in the T cell-dependent model of antigen-induced arthritis (AIA).
Methods
Acute arthritis was induced in pre-immunised 11-week-old male 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 transgenic (tg) mice and their wild-type (WT) littermates by intra-articular injection of methylated bovine serum albumine (mBSA) into one knee joint. Knee diameter was measured every 1–2 days until euthanasia on day 14 post injection. In a separate experiment, arthritis was maintained for 28 days by weekly reinjections of mBSA. Tissues were analysed by histology, histomorphometry and microfocal-computed tomography. Serum cytokines levels were determined by multiplex suspension array.
Results
In both short and long term experiments, arthritis developed in tg and WT mice with no significant difference between both groups. Histological indices of inflammation, cartilage damage and bone erosion were similar in tg and WT mice. Bone volume and turnover at the contralateral tibia and systemic cytokine levels were not different.
Conclusions
Acute murine AIA is not affected by a disruption in osteoblastic GC signalling. These data indicate that osteoblasts do not modulate the T cell-mediated inflammatory response via a GC-dependent pathway.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-31
PMCID: PMC3922092  PMID: 24491163
11-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2; Disease models; Animal; Arthritis; Glucocorticoids; Osteoblasts
3.  Osteoarthritis synovial fluid activates pro-inflammatory cytokines in primary human chondrocytes 
International Orthopaedics  2012;37(1):145-151.
Purpose
Two of the most common joint diseases are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). Cartilage degradation and erosions are important pathogenetic mechanisms in both joint diseases and have presently gained increasing interest. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of the synovial fluid environment of OA patients in comparison with synovial fluids of RA patients on human chondrocytes in vitro.
Methods
Primary human chondrocytes were incubated in synovial fluids gained from patients with OA or RA. The detection of vital cell numbers was determined by histology and by using the Casy Cell Counter System. Cytokine and chemokine secretion was determined by a multiplex suspension array.
Results
Microscopic analysis showed altered cell morphology and cell shrinkage following incubation with synovial fluid of RA patients. Detection of vital cells showed a highly significant decrease of vital chondrocyte when treated with RA synovial fluids in comparison with OA synovial fluids. An active secretion of cytokines such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) of chondrocytes treated with OA synovial fluids was observed.
Conclusions
Significantly increased levels of various cytokines in synovial fluids of RA, and surprisingly of OA, patients were shown. Activation of pro-inflammatory cytokines of human chondrocytes by synovial fluids of OA patient supports a pro-inflammatory process in the pathogenesis of OA.
doi:10.1007/s00264-012-1724-1
PMCID: PMC3532646  PMID: 23212731
4.  Energy metabolism and rheumatic diseases: from cell to organism 
In rheumatic and other chronic inflammatory diseases, high amounts of energy for the activated immune system have to be provided and allocated by energy metabolism. In recent time many new insights have been gained into the control of the immune response through metabolic signals. Activation of immune cells as well as reduced nutrient supply and hypoxia in inflamed tissues cause stimulation of glycolysis and other cellular metabolic pathways. However, persistent cellular metabolic signals can promote ongoing chronic inflammation and loss of immune tolerance. On the organism level, the neuroendocrine immune response of the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis and sympathetic nervous system, which is meant to overcome a transient inflammatory episode, can lead to metabolic disease sequelae if chronically activated. We conclude that, on cellular and organism levels, a prolonged energy appeal reaction is an important factor of chronic inflammatory disease etiology.
doi:10.1186/ar3885
PMCID: PMC3446535  PMID: 22747923
5.  Human Early Fracture Hematoma Is Characterized by Inflammation and Hypoxia 
Background
An effective immune system, especially during the inflammatory phase, putatively influences the quality and likelihood of bone healing. If and how this is reflected within the initial fracture hematoma is unclear.
Questions/purposes
We therefore asked the following questions: (1) Does the local expression in fracture hematoma of genes involved in adaptation to hypoxia, migration, angiogenesis, and osteogenesis vary as compared to the peripheral blood? (2) Do these changes occur time dependently? (3) Is the gene expression during fracture hematoma formation altered by irradiation?
Methods
Cells from fracture hematoma of 20 patients and hematomas formed in 40 patients after THA (20 without and 20 with preoperative radiation) were isolated and RNA was extracted to analyze the influence of oxygen deprivation during fracture healing on mRNA expression of genes (HIF1A, LDHA, and PGK1) involved in immunoregulation (IL6, IL8, CXCR4), angiogenesis (VEGF, IL8), and osteogenesis (SPP1, RUNX2) by quantitative PCR.
Results
We observed locally increased LDHA gene expression in fracture hematoma cells (6–72 h post fracture) reflecting the adaptation to hypoxia. IL6, IL8, and VEGF upregulation indicated hypoxia-mediated inflammation and angiogenesis; increased CXCR4 expression reflected immigration of immune cells. Osteogenic differentiation was reflected in the increased expression of the SPP1 and RUNX2 genes. The increased expression of the LDHA, VEGF, IL8, SPP1 and RUNX2 genes occurred time dependently. Irradiation suppressed HIF1A, IL6, IL8, CXCR4, and RUNX2 gene expression.
Conclusions
Our data suggest cells in the fracture hematoma (1) adapt to hypoxia and (2) promote inflammation in fracture healing at the mRNA level, indicating early involvement of the immune system.
Clinical Relevance
The initial fracture hematoma is important for the onset of angiogenesis, chemotaxis, and osteogenesis.
doi:10.1007/s11999-011-1865-3
PMCID: PMC3183184  PMID: 21409457
6.  Osteoblasts mediate the adverse effects of glucocorticoids on fuel metabolism 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(11):4172-4189.
Long-term glucocorticoid treatment is associated with numerous adverse outcomes, including weight gain, insulin resistance, and diabetes; however, the pathogenesis of these side effects remains obscure. Glucocorticoids also suppress osteoblast function, including osteocalcin synthesis. Osteocalcin is an osteoblast-specific peptide that is reported to be involved in normal murine fuel metabolism. We now demonstrate that osteoblasts play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of glucocorticoid-induced dysmetabolism. Osteoblast-targeted disruption of glucocorticoid signaling significantly attenuated the suppression of osteocalcin synthesis and prevented the development of insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and abnormal weight gain in corticosterone-treated mice. Nearly identical effects were observed in glucocorticoid-treated animals following heterotopic (hepatic) expression of both carboxylated and uncarboxylated osteocalcin through gene therapy, which additionally led to a reduction in hepatic lipid deposition and improved phosphorylation of the insulin receptor. These data suggest that the effects of exogenous high-dose glucocorticoids on insulin target tissues and systemic energy metabolism are mediated, at least in part, through the skeleton.
doi:10.1172/JCI63377
PMCID: PMC3484445  PMID: 23093779
7.  Hypoxia Promotes Osteogenesis but Suppresses Adipogenesis of Human Mesenchymal Stromal Cells in a Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1 Dependent Manner 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46483.
Background
Bone fracture initiates a series of cellular and molecular events including the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1. HIF-1 is known to facilitate recruitment and differentiation of multipotent human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSC). Therefore, we analyzed the impact of hypoxia and HIF-1 on the competitive differentiation potential of hMSCs towards adipogenic and osteogenic lineages.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Bone marrow derived primary hMSCs cultured for 2 weeks either under normoxic (app. 18% O2) or hypoxic (less than 2% O2) conditions were analyzed for the expression of MSC surface markers and for expression of the genes HIF1A, VEGFA, LDHA, PGK1, and GLUT1. Using conditioned medium, adipogenic or osteogenic differentiation as verified by Oil-Red-O or von-Kossa staining was induced in hMSCs under either normoxic or hypoxic conditions. The expression of HIF1A and VEGFA was measured by qPCR. A knockdown of HIF-1α by lentiviral transduction was performed, and the ability of the transduced hMSCs to differentiate into adipogenic and osteogenic lineages was analyzed. Hypoxia induced HIF-1α and HIF-1 target gene expression, but did not alter MSC phenotype or surface marker expression. Hypoxia (i) suppressed adipogenesis and associated HIF1A and PPARG gene expression in hMSCs and (ii) enhanced osteogenesis and associated HIF1A and RUNX2 gene expression. shRNA-mediated knockdown of HIF-1α enhanced adipogenesis under both normoxia and hypoxia, and suppressed hypoxia-induced osteogenesis.
Conclusions/Significance
Hypoxia promotes osteogenesis but suppresses adipogenesis of human MSCs in a competitive and HIF-1-dependent manner. We therefore conclude that the effects of hypoxia are crucial for effective bone healing, which may potentially lead to the development of novel therapeutic approaches.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046483
PMCID: PMC3459928  PMID: 23029528
8.  Human monocytes and macrophages differ in their mechanisms of adaptation to hypoxia 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(4):R181.
Introduction
Inflammatory arthritis is a progressive disease with chronic inflammation of joints, which is mainly characterized by the infiltration of immune cells and synovial hyperproliferation. Monocytes migrate towards inflamed areas and differentiate into macrophages. In inflamed tissues, much lower oxygen levels (hypoxia) are present in comparison to the peripheral blood. Hence, a metabolic adaptation process must take place. Other studies suggest that Hypoxia Inducible Factor 1-alpha (HIF-1α) may regulate this process, but the mechanism involved for human monocytes is not yet clear. To address this issue, we analyzed the expression and function of HIF-1α in monocytes and macrophages, but also considered alternative pathways involving nuclear factor of kappa light polypeptide gene enhancer in B-cells (NFκB).
Methods
Isolated human CD14+ monocytes were incubated under normoxia and hypoxia conditions with or without phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) stimulation, respectively. Nuclear and cytosolic fractions were prepared in order to detect HIF-1α and NFκB by immunoblot. For the experiments with macrophages, primary human monocytes were differentiated into human monocyte derived macrophages (hMDM) using human macrophage colony-stimulating factor (hM-CSF). The effects of normoxia and hypoxia on gene expression were compared between monocytes and hMDMs using quantitative PCR (quantitative polymerase chain reaction).
Results
We demonstrate, using primary human monocytes and hMDM, that the localization of transcription factor HIF-1α during the differentiation process is shifted from the cytosol (in monocytes) into the nucleus (in macrophages), apparently as an adaptation to a low oxygen environment. For this localization change, protein kinase C alpha/beta 1 (PKC-α/β1 ) plays an important role. In monocytes, it is NFκB1, and not HIF-1α, which is of central importance for the expression of hypoxia-adjusted genes.
Conclusions
These data demonstrate that during differentiation of monocytes into macrophages, crucial cellular adaptation mechanisms are decisively changed.
doi:10.1186/ar4011
PMCID: PMC3580576  PMID: 22870988
9.  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
10.  Targeting pathophysiological rhythms: prednisone chronotherapy shows sustained efficacy in rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;69(7):1275-1280.
Objective
This 9-month open-label extension of the Circadian Administration of Prednisone in Rheumatoid Arthritis Study (CAPRA 1) investigated the long-term safety and efficacy of prednisone chronotherapy with a novel modified-release (MR) prednisone for up to 12 months.
Methods
Of 288 patients with rheumatoid arthritis originally randomised to MR or immediate-release (IR) prednisone, 249 continued with prednisone chronotherapy (2–10 mg/day) in the 9-month open-label extension. Duration of morning stiffness of the joints (MS), disease activity scores (DAS28), American College of Rheumatology (ACR20) responses and plasma levels of interleukin 6 (IL-6) were assessed. Safety was analysed from adverse event reports and laboratory investigations.
Results
During the 3-month double-blind phase, patients in the MR group achieved a reduction in MS of 33.1% while no change was observed in the IR group. After 6 months of treatment, MS was reduced in the IR/MR group by 54% and in the MR/MR group by 56%. MS reduction after 12 months was 45% (IR/MR group) and 55% (MR/MR group). Plasma levels of IL-6 declined on MR treatment. DAS28 was reduced from 5.8 to 4.8 (MR/MR group) and 4.9 (IR/MR group), respectively. 37% of the 219 patients who completed the 12-month study achieved improvement according to the ACR20 criteria. Adverse events did not differ from the known profile of low-dose prednisone.
Conclusions
Prednisone chronotherapy with the MR tablet was safe and well tolerated and provided a sustained improvement which resulted in a better benefit to risk ratio of low-dose glucocorticoid treatment for at least 12 months.
doi:10.1136/ard.2009.126888
PMCID: PMC2946119  PMID: 20542963
11.  Low-dose prednisone chronotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis: a randomised clinical trial (CAPRA-2) 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(2):204-210.
Objective
To assess the efficacy and safety of low-dose prednisone chronotherapy using a new modified-release (MR) formulation for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods
In this 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, patients with active RA (n=350) were randomised 2:1 to receive MR prednisone 5 mg or placebo once daily in the evening in addition to their existing RA disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) treatment. The primary end point was the percentage of patients achieving a 20% improvement in RA signs and symptoms according to American College of Rheumatology criteria (ie, an ACR20 response) at week 12. Changes in morning pain, duration of morning stiffness, 28-joint Disease Activity Score and health-related quality of life were also assessed.
Results
MR prednisone plus DMARD treatment produced higher response rates for ACR20 (48% vs 29%, p<0.001) and ACR50 (22% vs 10%, p<0.006) and a greater median relative reduction from baseline in morning stiffness (55% vs 35%, p<0.002) at week 12 than placebo plus DMARD treatment. Significantly greater reductions in severity of RA (Disease Activity Score 28) (p<0.001) and fatigue (Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue score) (p=0.003) as well as a greater improvement in physical function (36-item Short-Form Health Survey score) (p<0.001) were seen at week 12 for MR prednisone versus placebo. The incidence of adverse events was similar for MR prednisone (43%) and placebo (49%).
Conclusion
Low-dose MR prednisone added to existing DMARD treatment produced rapid and relevant improvements in RA signs and symptoms.
ClinicalTrials.gov, number
NCT00650078
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2011-201067
PMCID: PMC3553491  PMID: 22562974

Results 1-11 (11)