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1.  Hydroxychloroquine in patients with inflammatory and erosive osteoarthritis of the hands (OA TREAT): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2014;15(1):412.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a heterogeneous group of conditions with disturbed integrity of articular cartilage and changes in the underlying bone. The pathogenesis of OA is multifactorial and not just a disease of older people. Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) typically used for the treatment of various rheumatic and dermatologic diseases. Three studies of HCQ in OA, including one abstract and one letter, are available and use a wide variety of outcome measures in small patient populations. Despite initial evidence for good efficacy of HCQ, there has been no randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled trial in a larger patient group. In the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), evidence-based recommendations for the management of hand OA, HCQ was not included as a therapeutic option because of the current lack of randomized clinical trials.
OA TREAT is an investigator-initiated, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. A total of 510 subjects with inflammatory and erosive hand OA, according to the classification criteria of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), with recent X-ray will be recruited across outpatient sites, hospitals and universities in Germany. Patients are randomized 1:1 to active treatment (HCQ 200 to 400 mg per day) or placebo for 52 weeks. Both groups receive standard therapy (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAID], coxibs) for OA treatment, taken steadily two weeks before enrollment and continued further afterwards. If disease activity increases, the dose of NSAID/coxibs can be increased according to the drug recommendation. The co-primary clinical endpoints are the changes in Australian-Canadian OA Index (AUSCAN, German version) dimensions for pain and hand disability at week 52. The co-primary radiographic endpoint is the radiographic progression from baseline to week 52. A multiple endpoint test and analysis of covariance will be used to compare changes between groups. All analyses will be conducted on an intention-to-treat basis.
The OA TREAT trial will examine the clinical and radiological efficacy and safety of HCQ as a treatment option for inflammatory and erosive OA over 12 months. OA TREAT focuses on erosive hand OA in contrast to other current studies on symptomatic hand OA, for example, HERO [Trials 14:64, 2013].
Trial registration
ISRCTN46445413, date of registration: 05-10-2011.
PMCID: PMC4219005  PMID: 25348033
Erosive hand osteoarthritis; Hydroxychloroquine; Double-blind; Hand; Placebo-controlled; Randomized
2.  Determinants of Discordance in Patients’ and Physicians’ Rating of Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease Activity 
Arthritis care & research  2012;64(2):206-214.
To assess the determinants of patients’ (PTGL) and physicians’ (MDGL) global assessment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) activity and factors associated with discordance among them.
A total of 7,028 patients in the Quantitative Standard Monitoring of Patients with RA study had PTGL and MDGL assessed at the same clinic visit on a 0–10-cm visual analog scale (VAS). Three patient groups were defined: concordant rating group (PTGL and MDGL within ±2 cm), higher patient rating group (PTGL exceeding MDGL by >2 cm), and lower patient rating group (PTGL less than MDGL by >2 cm). Multivariable regression analysis was used to identify determinants of PTGL and MDGL and their discordance.
The mean ± SD VAS scores for PTGL and MDGL were 4.01 ± 2.70 and 2.91 ± 2.37, respectively. Pain was overwhelmingly the single most important determinant of PTGL, followed by fatigue. In contrast, MDGL was most influenced by swollen joint count (SJC), followed by erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and tender joint count (TJC). A total of 4,454 (63.4%), 2,106 (30%), and 468 (6.6%) patients were in the concordant, higher, and lower patient rating groups, respectively. Odds of higher patient rating increased with higher pain, fatigue, psychological distress, age, and morning stiffness, and decreased with higher SJC, TJC, and ESR. Lower patient rating odds increased with higher SJC, TJC, and ESR, and decreased with lower fatigue levels.
Nearly 36% of patients had discordance in RA activity assessment from their physicians. Sensitivity to the “disease experience” of patients, particularly pain and fatigue, is warranted for effective care of RA.
PMCID: PMC3703925  PMID: 22052672
3.  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.
PMCID: PMC2990988  PMID: 21062513
4.  Prevalence of comorbidities in rheumatoid arthritis and evaluation of their monitoring: results of an international, cross-sectional study (COMORA) 
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at increased risk of developing comorbid conditions.
To evaluate the prevalence of comorbidities and compare their management in RA patients from different countries worldwide.
Study design: international, cross-sectional. Patients: consecutive RA patients. Data collected: demographics, disease characteristics (activity, severity, treatment), comorbidities (cardiovascular, infections, cancer, gastrointestinal, pulmonary, osteoporosis and psychiatric disorders).
Of 4586 patients recruited in 17 participating countries, 3920 were analysed (age, 56±13 years; disease duration, 10±9 years (mean±SD); female gender, 82%; DAS28 (Disease Activity Score using 28 joints)–erythrocyte sedimentation rate, 3.7±1.6 (mean±SD); Health Assessment Questionnaire, 1.0±0.7 (mean±SD); past or current methotrexate use, 89%; past or current use of biological agents, 39%. The most frequently associated diseases (past or current) were: depression, 15%; asthma, 6.6%; cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke), 6%; solid malignancies (excluding basal cell carcinoma), 4.5%; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 3.5%. High intercountry variability was observed for both the prevalence of comorbidities and the proportion of subjects complying with recommendations for preventing and managing comorbidities. The systematic evaluation of comorbidities in this study detected abnormalities in vital signs, such as elevated blood pressure in 11.2%, and identified conditions that manifest as laboratory test abnormalities, such as hyperglycaemia in 3.3% and hyperlipidaemia in 8.3%.
Among RA patients, there is a high prevalence of comorbidities and their risk factors. In this multinational sample, variability among countries was wide, not only in prevalence but also in compliance with recommendations for preventing and managing these comorbidities. Systematic measurement of vital signs and laboratory testing detects otherwise unrecognised comorbid conditions.
PMCID: PMC3888623  PMID: 24095940
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Cardiovascular Disease; Epidemiology; Lipids; Vaccination

Results 1-4 (4)