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1.  High levels of memory B cells are associated with response to a first tumor necrosis factor inhibitor in patients with rheumatoid arthritis in a longitudinal prospective study 
Introduction
Tumor necrosis factor inhibitor (TNFi) therapy is effective for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Some researchers have suggested that TNFi therapy affects B-cell homeostasis. We studied the effect of TNFi therapy on the distribution of peripheral B-cell subsets to elucidate B-cell–related biomarkers to predict the TNFi response.
Methods
Peripheral B cells were analyzed for expression of CD19, CD27, CD38 and immunoglobulin D in 31 healthy donors and 96 RA patients, including 21 patients who were followed 3 months after TNFi initiation.
Results
Treatment with steroids significantly altered the distribution of B-cell subsets. After we adjusted for age, sex and steroid dose, we found that patients with RA had B-cell subset proportions similar to controls. B-cell subset distributions did not differ upon use of TNFi at baseline or before or after TNFi introduction. TNFi responders (according to European League Against Rheumatism criteria) at 3 months had significantly higher proportions of CD27+ memory B cells at baseline, and ≥26% CD27+ cells at inclusion was associated with a relative risk of 4.9 (1.3 to 18.6) for response to TNFi treatment. CD27+ cells produced three times more TNFα than did TNFi-naïve B cells and were correlated with interferon γ produced from CD4+ cells in patients without TNFi treatment.
Conclusions
In patients with RA, high levels of baseline memory B cells were associated with response to TNFi, which may be related to TNFα-dependent activation of the T helper type 1 cell pathway.
doi:10.1186/ar4543
PMCID: PMC4060280  PMID: 24735586
2.  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
3.  GUEPARD treat-to-target strategy is significantly more efficacious than ESPOIR routine care in early rheumatoid arthritis according to patient-reported outcomes and physician global estimate 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2013;52(10):1890-1897.
Objective. To analyse seven RA Core Data Set measures and three indices for their capacity to distinguish treatment results in early RA in the GUEPARD treat-to-target clinical trial vs ESPOIR routine care.
Methods. Post hoc analyses compared 65 GUEPARD and 130 matched control ESPOIR patients over 6 and 12 months for mean changes in measures, relative efficiencies and standardized response means (SRM). Three indices—28-joint disease activity score (DAS28), clinical disease activity index (CDAI) and routine assessment of patient index data (RAPID3)—were compared for mean changes and numbers of patients with high, moderate or low activity or remission using κ values.
Results. Greater improvement was seen for GUEPARD vs ESPOIR, statistically significant for physician and patient global estimates and pain and health assessment questionnaire physical function (HAQ-FN), but not joint counts and laboratory tests. Relative efficiencies with tender joint count as the referent measure indicated that pain (2.57) and global estimates by patient (3.13) and physician (2.31) were most efficient in distinguishing GUEPARD from ESPOIR. Mean improvements in GUEPARD vs ESPOIR were −3.4 vs −2.6 for DAS28 (0–10) (24%), −29.8 vs −23.1 for CDAI (0–76) (23%) and −13.0 vs −7.8 for RAPID3 (0–30) (40%) (all P < 0.01); agreement was moderate between CDAI vs DAS28 (κ = 0.56) and vs RAPID3 (κ = 0.48), and fair between DAS28 vs RAPID3 (κ = 0.26).
Conclusion. Patient and global measures indicate greater efficacy than joint counts or laboratory measures in detecting difference between GUEPARD treat-to-target and ESPOIR routine care. A RAPID3 of only patient measures may help guide treat-to-target in busy clinical settings.
doi:10.1093/rheumatology/ket230
PMCID: PMC3775294  PMID: 23864169
treat-to-target; patient-reported outcomes; assessment; rheumatoid arthritis; patient questionnaires
4.  Matrix to predict rapid radiographic progression of early rheumatoid arthritis patients from the community treated with methotrexate or leflunomide: results from the ESPOIR cohort 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(6):R249.
Introduction
Early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients may show rapid radiographic progression (RRP) despite rapid initiation of synthetic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). The present study aimed to develop a matrix to predict risk of RRP despite early DMARD initiation in real life settings.
Methods
The ESPOIR cohort included 813 patients from the community with early arthritis for < 6 months; 370 patients had early RA and had received methotrexate or leflunomide during the first year of follow-up. RRP was defined as an increase in the van der Heijde-modified Sharp score (vSHS) ≥ 5 points at 1 year. Determinants of RRP were examined first by bivariate analysis, then multivariate stepwise logistic regression analysis. A visual matrix model was then developed to predict RRP in terms of patient baseline characteristics.
Results
We analyzed data for 370 patients. The mean Disease Activity Score in 28 joints was 5.4 ± 1.2, 18.1% of patients had typical RA erosion on radiographs and 86.4% satisfied the 2010 criteria of the American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism. During the first year, mean change in vSHS was 1.6 ± 5.5, and 41 patients (11.1%) showed RRP. A multivariate logistic regression model enabled the development of a matrix predicting RRP in terms of baseline swollen joint count, C-reactive protein level, anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies status, and erosions seen on radiography for patients with early RA who received DMARDs.
Conclusions
The ESPOIR matrix may be a useful clinical practice tool to identify patients with early RA at high risk of RRP despite early DMARD initiation.
doi:10.1186/ar4092
PMCID: PMC3674616  PMID: 23164197
5.  Rheumatoid arthritis and sexuality: A patient survey in France 
Background
The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on patients’ sexuality and identify disease and other factors such as fatigue that most influence sexual relationships.
Methods
A specific pretested questionnaire was sent to all members of a French patient association (ANDAR). Questions related to demographics, disease status, quality of life (utility, EQ-5D), pain, psychological status (mood), fatigue and emotional and sexual relationships. To isolate the impact of RA, an attempt was made to include a matched sample from the general population.
Results
The analysis included 1271 patients, but only 70 controls agreed to participate and comparisons should therefore be considered with caution. The two groups were similar in terms of age, gender distribution, living conditions and diseases other than RA. However, patients scored worse for global health, mood, fatigue, had a lower utility (0.55 versus 0.65). Controls were more active sexually (69% versus 63%), in particular women (71% versus 60%). Age, gender, living alone, physical function and mood were significant predictors for being sexually active for patients; for controls, age and overall quality of life (utility) were significant predictors.
Conclusions
While it is known that RA has a negative impact on patients’ sexuality, there have been few attempts to quantify the problem. Our study highlights the negative impact of RA on patients’ sexuality, and triggers the question how to include this aspect into care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-170
PMCID: PMC3493389  PMID: 22963081
Rheumatoid arthritis; Fatigue; Quality of life; Sexuality
6.  Validation of ACR/EULAR definition of remission in rheumatoid arthritis from RA practice: the ESPOIR cohort 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(3):R156.
Introduction
In development of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR)/European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remission definitions using clinical trials data, one criterion used to compare different remission definitions was whether, compared with those not in remission, those in remission had evidence of later disease stability defined by x-ray and functional status. Validation of the RA remission criteria using observational study data is necessary before recommending their use in practice.
Methods
Using data from those who met RA criteria in the ESPOIR cohort, we matched each person in remission with a person not in remission and then carried out analyses comparing later stability of x-ray and health assessment questionnaire (HAQ) between the two groups. We compared the predictive validity of the same candidate definitions of remission evaluated in the ACR/EULAR process. To minimize potential bias and produce more stable results, we used a bootstrap resampling approach to select those not in remission, repeating the sample matching analysis process 500 times.
Results
Results were similar to those of clinical trials analyzed for the ACR/EULAR remission criteria. Specifically, the ACR/EULAR remission definitions using either an simple disease activity index (SDAI) ≤ 3.3, clinical disease activity index (CDAI) ≤ 2.8 or a definition of remission requiring tender joint count, swollen joint count, patient global assessment all ≤ 1 performed as well or better than other candidate definitions of remission in terms of predicting later x-ray and function stability.
Conclusions
ACR/EULAR definitions of remission developed for trials are similarly valid in observational studies in RA and could be used in practice.
doi:10.1186/ar3896
PMCID: PMC3446542  PMID: 22747951
7.  American College of Rheumatology/European League against Rheumatism Preliminary Definition of Remission in Rheumatoid Arthritis for Clinical Trials 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(3):573-586.
Background
With remission in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) an increasingly attainable goal, there is no widely used definition of remission that is stringent but achievable and could be applied uniformly as an outcome in clinical trials.
Methods
A committee consisting of members of the American College of Rheumatology, the European League Against Rheumatism and the Outcome Measures in Rheumatology Initiative (OMERACT) met to guide the process and review prespecified analyses from clinical trials of patients with RA. The committee requested a stringent definition (little, if any, active disease) and decided to use core set measures to define remission including at least joint counts and an acute phase reactant. Members were surveyed to select the level of each core set measure consistent with remission. Candidate definitions of remission were tested including those that constituted a number of individual measures in remission (Boolean approach) as well as definitions using disease activity indexes. To select a definition of remission, trial data were analyzed to examine the added contribution of patient reported outcomes and the ability of candidate measures to predict later good x-ray and functional outcomes.
Results
Survey results for the definition of remission pointed to indexes at published thresholds and to a count of core set measures with each measure scored as 1 or less (e.g. tender and swollen joint counts, CRP and global assessments on 0-10 scale). Analyses suggested the need to include a patient reported measure. Examination of 2 year follow-up data suggested that many candidate definitions performed comparably in terms of predicting later good x-ray and functional outcomes, although DAS28 based measures of remission did not predict good radiographic outcomes as well as did the other candidate definitions. Given these and other considerations, we propose that a patient be defined as in remission based on one of two definitions : 1: When their scores on the following measures are all <1: tender joint count, swollen joint count, CRP (in mg/dL) and patient global assessment (0-10 scale), OR 2: when their score on the SDAI is < 3.3.
Conclusion
We propose two new definitions of remission both of which can be uniformly applied and widely used in RA clinical trials. We recommend that one of these be selected in each trial as an outcome and that the results on both be reported in each trial.
doi:10.1002/art.30129
PMCID: PMC3115717  PMID: 21294106
8.  Lymphotoxin α revisited: general features and implications in rheumatoid arthritis 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting synovial joints. Therapies blocking tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα) are now routinely used in the management of RA. However, a significant number of patients with RA do not respond or develop resistance to anti-TNF therapies, and the participation of other cytokines in RA pathogenesis has been reported as well. Lymphotoxin alpha (LTα) is the closest homolog to TNFα and has been implicated in inflammation and autoimmunity since its original description in 1968. In spite of that, little is known about the role of LTα in RA or the potential of blocking this cytokine as an alternative therapeutic approach. In this review, we aim to summarize the general features of LTα and what is currently known about its participation in RA.
doi:10.1186/ar3376
PMCID: PMC3239340  PMID: 21861866
9.  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
10.  Understanding emerging treatment paradigms in rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(Suppl 1):S3.
Treatment strategies for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) will continue to evolve as new drugs are developed, as new data become available, and as our potential to achieve greater and more consistent outcomes becomes more routine. Many patients will find both symptom relief and modest control of their disease with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), yet this course of therapy is clearly not effective in all patients. In fact, despite strong evidence that intensive treatment in the early stages of RA can slow or stop disease progression and may prevent disability, many patients continue to be managed in a stepwise manner and are treated with an ongoing monotherapy regimen with DMARDs. There is now a large body of evidence demonstrating the success of treating RA patients with anti-TNF therapy, usually in combination with methotrexate. As a result of the increased use of anti-TNF therapy, treatment paradigms have changed – and our practice is beginning to reflect this change. In the present review, we summarize the salient points of several recently proposed and emerging treatment paradigms with an emphasis on how these strategies may impact future practice.
doi:10.1186/1478-6354-13-S1-S3
PMCID: PMC3123964  PMID: 21624182
11.  EULAR recommendations for the management of rheumatoid arthritis with synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;69(6):964-975.
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may differ among rheumatologists and currently, clear and consensual international recommendations on RA treatment are not available. In this paper recommendations for the treatment of RA with synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and glucocorticoids (GCs) that also account for strategic algorithms and deal with economic aspects, are described. The recommendations are based on evidence from five systematic literature reviews (SLRs) performed for synthetic DMARDs, biological DMARDs, GCs, treatment strategies and economic issues. The SLR-derived evidence was discussed and summarised as an expert opinion in the course of a Delphi-like process. Levels of evidence, strength of recommendations and levels of agreement were derived. Fifteen recommendations were developed covering an area from general aspects such as remission/low disease activity as treatment aim via the preference for methotrexate monotherapy with or without GCs vis-à-vis combination of synthetic DMARDs to the use of biological agents mainly in patients for whom synthetic DMARDs and tumour necrosis factor inhibitors had failed. Cost effectiveness of the treatments was additionally examined. These recommendations are intended to inform rheumatologists, patients and other stakeholders about a European consensus on the management of RA with DMARDs and GCs as well as strategies to reach optimal outcomes of RA, based on evidence and expert opinion.
doi:10.1136/ard.2009.126532
PMCID: PMC2935329  PMID: 20444750
12.  Evidence for treating rheumatoid arthritis to target: results of a systematic literature search 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;69(4):638-643.
Objectives
To summarise existing evidence on a target oriented approach for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment.
Methods
We conducted a systematic literature search including all clinical trials testing clinical, functional, or structural values of a targeted treatment approach. Our search covered Medline, Embase and Cochrane databases until December 2008 and also conference abstracts (2007, 2008).
Results
The primary search yielded 5881 citations; after the selection process, 76 papers underwent detailed review. Of these, only seven strategic clinical trials were extracted: four studies randomised patients to routine or targeted treatment, two compared two different randomised targets and one compared targeted treatment to a historical control group. Five trials dealt with early RA patients. All identified studies showed significantly better clinical outcomes of targeted approaches than routine approaches. Disability was reported in two studies with no difference between groups. Four studies compared radiographic outcomes, two showing significant benefit of the targeted approach.
Conclusion
Only few studies employed randomised controlled settings to test the value of treatment to a specific target. However, they provided unanimous evidence for benefits of targeted approaches. Nevertheless, more data on radiographic and functional outcomes and on patients with established RA are needed.
doi:10.1136/ard.2009.123976
PMCID: PMC3015093  PMID: 20237123
13.  Treating rheumatoid arthritis to target: recommendations of an international task force 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;69(4):631-637.
Background
Aiming at therapeutic targets has reduced the risk of organ failure in many diseases such as diabetes or hypertension. Such targets have not been defined for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Objective
To develop recommendations for achieving optimal therapeutic outcomes in RA.
Methods
A task force of rheumatologists and a patient developed a set of recommendations on the basis of evidence derived from a systematic literature review and expert opinion; these were subsequently discussed, amended and voted upon by >60 experts from various regions of the world in a Delphi-like procedure. Levels of evidence, strength of recommendations and levels of agreement were derived.
Results
The treat-to-target activity resulted in 10 recommendations. The treatment aim was defined as remission with low disease activity being an alternative goal in patients with long-standing disease. Regular follow-up (every 1–3 months during active disease) with appropriate therapeutic adaptation to reach the desired state within 3 to a maximum of 6 months was recommended. Follow-up examinations ought to employ composite measures of disease activity which include joint counts. Additional items provide further details for particular aspects of the disease. Levels of agreement were very high for many of these recommendations (≥9/10).
Conclusion
The 10 recommendations are supposed to inform patients, rheumatologists and other stakeholders about strategies to reach optimal outcomes of RA based on evidence and expert opinion.
doi:10.1136/ard.2009.123919
PMCID: PMC3015099  PMID: 20215140
14.  Rapid and sustained improvements in health-related quality of life, fatigue, and other patient-reported outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with certolizumab pegol plus methotrexate over 1 year: results from the RAPID 1 randomized controlled trial 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(6):R170.
Introduction
The objective of this study was to assess the impact of certolizumab pegol (CZP) treatment on health-related quality of life (HRQoL), fatigue and other patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods
Patients with active RA (N = 982) were randomized 2:2:1 to subcutaneous CZP (400 mg at weeks 0, 2 and 4; followed by CZP 200 mg or 400 mg) plus methotrexate (MTX) every other week, or placebo (PBO) plus MTX. PRO assessments included HRQoL, fatigue, physical function, arthritis pain and disease activity. Adjusted mean changes from baseline in all PROs were obtained using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) applying last observation carried forward (LOCF) imputation. The proportion of patients achieving clinically meaningful improvements in each PRO was obtained using logistic regression and by applying non-responder imputation to missing values after rescue medication or withdrawal. The correlations between PRO responses and clinical responses were also assessed by tetrachoric correlation using non-responder imputation.
Results
Patients treated with CZP plus MTX reported significant (P < 0.001), clinically meaningful improvements in HRQoL at the first assessment (week 12); reductions in fatigue, disease activity and pain and improvements in physical function were reported at week 1. In particular, CZP-treated patients reported improvements in mental health. Mean changes from baseline in the SF-36 Mental Component Summary (MCS) at week 52 for CZP 200 mg and 400 mg plus MTX, and PBO plus MTX were 6.4, 6.4 and 2.1, respectively (P < 0.001). In addition, mental health and vitality scores in CZP-treated patients approached age- and gender-adjusted US population norms. Improvements in all PROs were sustained. Similar benefits were reported with both CZP doses. Changes in SF-36 MCS scores had the lowest correlation with disease activity scores (DAS28) and American College of Rheumatology 20% improvement (ACR20) response rates, while improvements in pain showed the highest correlation.
Conclusions
Treatment with CZP plus MTX resulted in rapid and sustained improvements in all PROs, indicating that the benefits of CZP extend beyond clinical efficacy endpoints into areas that are more relevant and meaningful for patients on a daily basis.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00152386.
doi:10.1186/ar2859
PMCID: PMC3003523  PMID: 19909548
15.  Determining a low disease activity threshold for decision to maintain disease-modifying antirheumatic drug treatment unchanged in rheumatoid arthritis patients 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(5):R157.
Introduction
The aim of this study was to determine a low disease activity threshold - a 28-joint disease activity score (DAS28) value - for the decision to maintain unchanged disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) treatment in rheumatoid arthritis patients, based on expert opinion.
Methods
Nine hundred and sixty-seven case scenarios with various levels for each component of the DAS28 (resulting in a disease activity score between 2 and 3.2) were presented to 44 panelists. For each scenario, panelists had to decide whether or not DMARD treatment (excluding steroids) could be maintained unchanged. In each scenario, for decision, the participants were given the DAS28 parameters, without knowledge of the resultant DAS28. The relationship between panelists' decision, DAS28 value, and components of the score were analysed by multiple logistic regression analysis. Each panelist analysed 160 randomised scenarios. Intra-rater and inter-rater reproducibility were assessed.
Results
Forty-four panelists participated in the study. Inter-panelist agreement was good (κ = 0.63; 95% confidence interval = 0.61 to 0.65). Intra-panelist agreement was excellent (κ = 0.87; 95% confidence interval = 0.82 to 0.92). Quasi-perfect agreement was observed for DAS28 ≤ 2.4, less pronounced between 2.5 and 2.9, and almost no agreement for DAS28 > 3.0. For values below 2.5, panelists agreed to maintain unchanged DMARDs; for values above 2.5, discrepancies occurred more frequently as the DAS28 value increased. Multivariate analysis confirmed the relationship between panelist's decision, DAS28 value and components of the DAS28. Between DAS28 of 2.4 and 3.2, a major determinant for panelists' decision was swollen joint count. Female and public practice physicians decided more often to maintain treatment unchanged.
Conclusions
As a conclusion, panelists suggested that in clinical practice there is no need to change DMARD treatment in rheumatoid arthritis patients with DAS28 ≤ 2.4.
doi:10.1186/ar2836
PMCID: PMC2787280  PMID: 19849865
16.  Markers of B-lymphocyte activation are elevated in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis and correlated with disease activity in the ESPOIR cohort 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(4):R114.
Introduction
Little is known about systemic B-cell activation in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We therefore evaluated the serum levels of markers of B-cell activation in patients included in the ESPOIR early arthritis cohort.
Methods
In the ESPOIR early arthritis cohort (at least 2 swollen joints for more than 6 weeks but less than 6 months), 710 patients were assessed at 1 year and either met the 1987 American College of Rheumatology criteria for RA (n = 578) or had undifferentiated arthritis (n = 132). Baseline serum samples of patients naïve to corticosteroid and disease-modifying antirheumatic drug treatment were assessed for beta2-microglobulin, IgG, IgA, IgM, immunoglobulin free light chains of immunoglobulins, and B-cell activating factor of the tumor necrosis factor family (BAFF). The BAFF gene 871T>C polymorphism was genotyped in all patients.
Results
All markers of B-cell activation except BAFF and IgM were significantly higher in patients with early RA than those with undifferentiated arthritis. Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) and beta2-microglobulin were associated with a diagnosis of early RA in the multivariate analysis. Markers of B-cell activation, except BAFF, were associated with disease activity, rheumatoid factor and anti-CCP secretion. The BAFF gene polymorphism was not associated with early RA.
Conclusions
Markers of B-cell activation are elevated in patients with early RA, compared with undifferentiated arthritis, independently of any systemic increase in BAFF secretion, and correlate with disease activity. This study sheds new light on the early pathogenic role of B-lymphocytes in RA and suggests that targeting them might be a useful therapeutic strategy in early RA.
doi:10.1186/ar2773
PMCID: PMC2745796  PMID: 19627580
17.  Prognostic factors of 10-year radiographic outcome in early rheumatoid arthritis: a prospective study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2008;10(5):R106.
Introduction
The objectives of this study were to determine the predictive factors of long-term radiographic outcome of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to describe the relationship between joint damage and disability over the course of the disease.
Methods
A cohort of 191 patients with early RA referred from primary care physicians were prospectively followed for 10 years. To determine the predictive factors of radiographic outcome, univariate analysis of the relationship between baseline values and outcome measures was undertaken using a chi-squared or Fisher's exact test. Stepwise multiple logistic regression was also performed to select independent prognostic factors.
Results
From data available for 112 patients, univariate analysis revealed a total Sharp score at 10 years that was significantly correlated with erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), presence and level of IgA rheumatoid factor, presence of an anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA), serum level of matrix metalloproteinase-3 and radiographic score at baseline. Logistic regression identified the baseline erosion score to be the most important baseline parameter as an independent prognostic factor of total radiographic score at 10 years (odds ratio = 5.64; 95% confidence interval = 1.78 to 17.86). After excluding radiographic scores from the entry parameters, the presence of ACPA and ESR were also predictive of the final total Sharp score. The Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) score was strongly correlated with disease activity parameters, such as disease activity score and pain, at baseline and at three, five and 10 years. No correlation was found between total radiographic Sharp score and HAQ score throughout the study.
Conclusions
In this prospective study, baseline radiographic score, ESR and ACPA were the best predictive factors of 10-year radiographic outcome in early RA. HAQ disability was associated with disease activity throughout the 10-year follow-up but not with joint damage. This discrepancy with previous reports may be due in part to the early start of therapy with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.
doi:10.1186/ar2498
PMCID: PMC2592783  PMID: 18771585
18.  Update on the use of etanercept across a spectrum of rheumatoid disorders 
Biologics : Targets & Therapy  2008;2(2):165-173.
Etanercept is a soluble TNF receptor p75 fusion protein which is approved for subcutaneous use (50 mg weekly) in the treatment of patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA), juvenile RA, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis. Etanercept binds to both TNFα and lymphotoxin and has quite a short mean half-life (70 hours). Numerous randomized clinical trials have demonstrated its efficacy to improve signs and symptoms in early and established RA and other inflammatory arthritis. Furthermore, etanercept has shown its ability to prevent radiographic progression and to improve health-related quality of life in patients with RA and psoriatic arthritis. A combination of etanercept plus methotrexate was more efficacious than etanercept monotherapy in RA patients but there is currently no evidence that such rheumatic combination is better than monotherapy in other disorders. Etanercept was generally well tolerated both in controlled trials with withdrawal rates being similar to the comparator groups and in large observational studies. Infections and injection-site reactions were the most frequently reported events. Serious infections were slightly increased but the occurrence of tuberculosis seemed less frequent than with anti-TNF monoclonal antibodies (infliximab and adalimumab). The benefit-risk ratio of etanercept appeared to be very positive, and this drug has now emerged as a major therapy in patients with active inflammatory arthritis. Furthermore, it is more frequently considered as an emerging and valuable option in patients with early disease.
PMCID: PMC2721350  PMID: 19707351
etanercept; TNF blockers; rheumatoid arthritis; juvenile rheumatoid arthritis; ankylosing spondylitis; psoriatic arthritis
19.  Cardiovascular disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: results from the QUEST-RA study 
Introduction
We analyzed the prevalence of cardiovascular (CV) disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and its association with traditional CV risk factors, clinical features of RA, and the use of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in a multinational cross-sectional cohort of nonselected consecutive outpatients with RA (The Questionnaires in Standard Monitoring of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis Program, or QUEST-RA) who were receiving regular clinical care.
Methods
The study involved a clinical assessment by a rheumatologist and a self-report questionnaire by patients. The clinical assessment included a review of clinical features of RA and exposure to DMARDs over the course of RA. Comorbidities were recorded; CV morbidity included myocardial infarction, angina, coronary disease, coronary bypass surgery, and stroke. Traditional risk factors recorded were hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus, smoking, physical inactivity, and body mass index. Unadjusted and adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) (95% confidence interval [CI]) for CV morbidity were calculated using Cox proportional hazard regression models.
Results
Between January 2005 and October 2006, the QUEST-RA project included 4,363 patients from 48 sites in 15 countries; 78% were female, more than 90% were Caucasian, and the mean age was 57 years. The prevalence for lifetime CV events in the entire sample was 3.2% for myocardial infarction, 1.9% for stroke, and 9.3% for any CV event. The prevalence for CV risk factors was 32% for hypertension, 14% for hyperlipidemia, 8% for diabetes, 43% for ever-smoking, 73% for physical inactivity, and 18% for obesity. Traditional risk factors except obesity and physical inactivity were significantly associated with CV morbidity. There was an association between any CV event and age and male gender and between extra-articular disease and myocardial infarction. Prolonged exposure to methotrexate (HR 0.85; 95% CI 0.81 to 0.89), leflunomide (HR 0.59; 95% CI 0.43 to 0.79), sulfasalazine (HR 0.92; 95% CI 0.87 to 0.98), glucocorticoids (HR 0.95; 95% CI 0.92 to 0.98), and biologic agents (HR 0.42; 95% CI 0.21 to 0.81; P < 0.05) was associated with a reduction of the risk of CV morbidity; analyses were adjusted for traditional risk factors and countries.
Conclusion
In conclusion, prolonged use of treatments such as methotrexate, sulfasalazine, leflunomide, glucocorticoids, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha blockers appears to be associated with a reduced risk of CV disease. In addition to traditional risk factors, extra-articular disease was associated with the occurrence of myocardial infarction in patients with RA.
doi:10.1186/ar2383
PMCID: PMC2453774  PMID: 18325087
20.  Apoptosis is not the major death mechanism induced by celecoxib on rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts 
Synovial hyperplasia in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been associated with apoptosis deficiency of RA fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs). Celecoxib is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that has been demonstrated to induce apoptosis in some cellular systems. We have therefore examined the dose- and time-dependent effects of celecoxib on RA FLS viability. Treatment of RA FLSs with celecoxib for 24 hours reduced their viability in a dose-dependent manner. Analysis of celecoxib-treated RA FLSs for their content of apoptotic and necrotic cells by Annexin V staining and TO-PRO-3 uptake displayed only few apoptotic cells. Caspase 3, a key mediator of apoptosis, was not activated in celecoxib-treated RA FLSs, and the presence of specific caspase 3 or pan-caspase inhibitors did not affect celecoxib-induced cell death. Moreover, we could not detect other signs of apoptosis, such as cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, caspase 8 or 9, or DNA fragmentation. We therefore conclude that apoptosis is not the major death pathway in celecoxib-treated RA FLSs.
doi:10.1186/ar2342
PMCID: PMC2246250  PMID: 18076767
21.  Serial determination of cyclic citrullinated peptide autoantibodies predicted five-year radiological outcomes in a prospective cohort of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis 
The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential of serially determined anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) antibodies for predicting structural joint damage in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA), compared to a single baseline determination. Ninety-nine RA patients with disease durations of less than one year and no history of disease-modifying antirheumatic drug therapy were followed prospectively for at least five years. Anti-CCP2 concentrations were measured using a second-generation ELISA. Sharp scores as modified by van der Heijde were determined on hand and foot radiographs. Anti-CCP2 antibodies were detected in 55.5% of patients at baseline and 63.6% at any time during the first three years. Presence of anti-CCP2 at any time during the first three years was associated with radiographic damage at baseline (odds ratio (OR), 3.66; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.99–13.54) and with five year progression of the total Sharp score (OR, 3.17; 95% CI, 1.3–7.7), erosion score (OR, 5.3; 95% CI, 1.4–19.2) and joint space narrowing score (OR, 2.8; 95% CI, 1.15–6.8). The presence of anti-CCP2 or IgM RF at baseline did not predict these outcomes. Patients with negative anti-CCP2 tests throughout follow-up had less radiographic progression than patients with increasing anti-CCP2 concentrations; they did not differ from patients with decreasing anti-CCP2 antibody levels. HLADRB1* typing showed that progression of the mean modified Sharp score was not correlated with the presence of the shared epitope alleles. In conclusion, serially determined anti-CCP2 antibodies during the first three years of follow-up performs better than baseline determination for predicting radiographic progression in patients with early RA.
doi:10.1186/ar1896
PMCID: PMC1526612  PMID: 16469118
22.  Consensus statement on blocking the effects of interleukin-6 and in particular by interleukin-6 receptor inhibition in rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(4):482-492.
Background
Since approval of tocilizumab (TCZ) for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), interleukin 6 (IL-6) pathway inhibition was evaluated in trials of TCZ and other agents targeting the IL-6 receptor and ligand in various RA populations and other inflammatory diseases. This consensus document informs on interference with the IL-6 pathway based on evidence and expert opinion.
Methods
Preparation of this document involved international experts in RA treatment and RA patients. A systematic literature search was performed that focused on TCZ and other IL6-pathway inhibitors in RA and other diseases. Subsequently, incorporating available published evidence and expert opinion, the steering committee and a broader expert committee (both including RA patients) formulated the current consensus statement.
Results
The consensus statement covers use of TCZ as combination- or monotherapy in various RA populations and includes clinical, functional and structural aspects. The statement also addresses the second approved indication in Europe JIA and non-approved indications. Also early phase trials involving additional agents that target the IL-6 receptor or IL-6 were evaluated. Safety concerns, including haematological, hepatic and metabolic issues as well as infections, are addressed likewise.
Conclusions
The consensus statement identifies points to consider when using TCZ, regarding indications, contraindications, screening, dose, comedication, response evaluation and safety. The document is aimed at supporting clinicians and informing patients, administrators and payers on opportunities and limitations of IL-6 pathway inhibition.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202469
PMCID: PMC3595138  PMID: 23172750
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (biologic); Treatment

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