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1.  Evaluation of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-sparing effect of etanercept in axial spondyloarthritis: results of the multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled SPARSE study 
In clinical practice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly discontinued after response to biologic therapy is achieved in patients with axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA), but the impact of NSAID discontinuation has not been assessed in prospective controlled trials. The aim of the SPARSE study was to evaluate the effects of the anti-tumor necrosis factor agent etanercept on NSAID intake and conventional clinical outcomes in axSpA patients.
In the double-blind, placebo-controlled period, patients with active (mini Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI) ≥4) axSpA despite optimal NSAID intake were randomized to receive etanercept 50 mg or placebo once weekly for 8 weeks. All patients were advised to taper/discontinue their NSAID intake during the treatment period. NSAID intake was self-reported by diary and Assessment of SpondyloArthritis International Society (ASAS)-NSAID scores calculated based on ASAS recommendations. The primary endpoint was change from baseline to week 8 in ASAS-NSAID score (analysis of covariance).
In 90 randomized patients at baseline, mean age (standard deviation) was 38.9 (11.8) years; disease duration, 5.7 (8.1) years; 59/90 (66%) were human leukocyte antigen-B27 positive; 51/90 (57%) had radiographic sacroiliitis; and 45/90 (50%) were magnetic resonance imaging sacroiliitis-positive. Mean ASAS-NSAID scores were similar between etanercept and placebo groups at baseline (98.2 (39.0) versus 93.0 (23.4)), as were BASDAI (6.0 (1.7) versus 5.9 (1.5)), and Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index (5.2 (2.1) versus 5.1 (2.2)). Mean changes (SE) in ASAS-NSAID score from baseline to week 8 were –63.9 (6.1) and –36.6 (5.9) in the etanercept and placebo groups (between-group difference, –27.3; P = 0.002). Significantly higher proportions of patients receiving etanercept versus placebo had an ASAS-NSAID score <10 (46% versus 17%; P = 0.008) and ASAS-NSAID score of 0 (41% versus 14%; P = 0.013) at this time point. Significantly more patients in the etanercept versus placebo group achieved BASDAI50 (39% versus 18%; P = 0.032) and ASAS40 (44% versus 21%; P = 0.028) at week 8.
In patients with axSpA, etanercept was associated with clinically relevant NSAID-sparing effects in addition to significant improvements in conventional clinical outcomes.
Trial registration NCT01298531. Registered 16 February 2011.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0481-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4282738  PMID: 25428762
2.  Updating the OMERACT Filter: Implications for imaging and soluble biomarkers 
The Journal of rheumatology  2014;41(5):1016-1024.
The OMERACT Filter provides a framework for the validation of outcome measures for use in rheumatology clinical research. However, imaging and biochemical measures may face additional validation challenges due to their technical nature. The Imaging and Soluble Biomarker Session at OMERACT 11 aimed to provide a guide for the iterative development of an imaging or biochemical measurement instrument so it can be used in therapeutic assessment.
A hierarchical structure was proposed, reflecting 3 dimensions needed for validating an imaging or biochemical measurement instrument: outcome domain(s), study setting and performance of the instrument. Movement along the axes in any dimension reflects increasing validation. For a given test instrument, the 3-axis structure assesses the extent to which the instrument is a validated measure for the chosen domain, whether it assesses a patient or disease centred-variable, and whether its technical performance is adequate in the context of its application. Some currently used imaging and soluble biomarkers for rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis and knee osteoarthritis were then evaluated using the original OMERACT filter and the newly proposed structure. Break-out groups critically reviewed the extent to which the candidate biomarkers complied with the proposed step-wise approach, as a way of examining the utility of the proposed 3 dimensional structure.
Although there was a broad acceptance of the value of the proposed structure in general, some areas for improvement were suggested including clarification of criteria for achieving a certain level of validation and how to deal with extension of the structure to areas beyond clinical trials.
General support was obtained for a proposed tri-axis structure to assess validation of imaging and soluble biomarkers; nevertheless, additional work is required to better evaluate its place within the OMERACT Filter 2.0.
PMCID: PMC4223089  PMID: 24584916
biomarkers; imaging; OMERACT filter; validation framework
3.  Updating the OMERACT Filter: Core Areas as a basis for defining core outcome sets 
The Journal of rheumatology  2014;41(5):994-999.
The OMERACT Filter provides guidelines for the development and validation of outcome measures for use in clinical research. The ‘Truth’ section of the OMERACT Filter pre-supposes an explicit framework for identifying the relevant core outcomes that are universal to all studies of the effects of intervention effects. There is no published outline for instrument choice or development that is aimed at measuring outcome, was derived from broad consensus over its underlying philosophy, or includes a structured and documented critique. Therefore, a new proposal for defining core areas of measurement (“Filter 2.0 Core Areas of Measurement”) was presented at OMERACT 11 to explore areas of consensus and consider whether already endorsed core outcome sets fit in to this newly proposed framework.
Discussion groups critically reviewed the extent to which case studies of current OMERACT Working Groups complied with or negated the proposed framework, whether these observations had a more general application, and what issues remained to be resolved.
Although there was a broad acceptance of the framework in general, several important areas of construction, presentation and clarity of the framework were questioned. The discussion groups and subsequent feedback highlighted 20 such issues.
These issues will require resolution in order to reach consensus on accepting the proposed Filter 2.0 framework of Core Areas as the basis for the selection of Core Outcome Domains and hence appropriate Core Outcome Sets for clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC4217644  PMID: 24634204
4.  Updating the OMERACT Filter: Implications of Filter 2.0 to select outcome instruments through assessment of ‘Truth’: content, face and construct validity 
The Journal of rheumatology  2014;41(5):1000-1004.
The OMERACT Filter provides guidelines for the development and validation of outcome measures for use in clinical research. The ‘Truth’ section of the OMERACT Filter requires that criteria be met to demonstrate that the outcome instrument meets the criteria for content, face and construct validity.
Discussion groups critically reviewed the variety of ways in which case studies of current OMERACT Working Groups complied with the ‘Truth’ component of the Filter and what issues remained to be resolved.
The case studies showed that there is broad agreement on criteria for meeting the ‘Truth’ criteria through demonstration of content, face and construct validity; however several issues were identified that the Filter Working Group will need to address.
These issues will require resolution in order to reach consensus on how ‘Truth’ will be assessed for the proposed Filter 2.0 framework, for instruments to be endorsed by OMERACT.
PMCID: PMC4212637  PMID: 24692531
6.  The role of pain and functional impairment in the decision to recommend total joint replacement in hip and knee osteoarthritis: an international cross-sectional study of 1909 patients. Report of the OARSI-OMERACT Task Force on total joint replacement 
To assess the pain and functional disability levels corresponding to an indication for total joint replacement (TJR) in hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA).
Design: international cross-sectional study in 10 countries. Patients: consecutive outpatients with definite hip or knee OA attending an orthopaedic outpatient clinic. Gold standard measure for recommendation for TJR: surgeon's decision that TJR is justified. Outcome measures: pain (ICOAP: intermittent and constant osteoarthritis pain, 0-100) and functional impairment (HOOS-PS/KOOS-PS: Hip/Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score Physical function Short-form, 0-100). Analyses: Comparison of patients with versus without surgeons' indication for TJR. ROC curve analyses and logistic regression were applied to determine cut-points of pain and disability defining recommendation for TJR.
In all, 1909 patients were included (1130 knee/779 hip OA). Mean age was 66.4 (SD 10.9) years, 58.1% were women; 628/1130 (55.6%) knee OA and 574/779 (73.7%) hip OA patients were recommended for TJR. Although patients recommended for TJR (yes versus no) had worse symptom levels (pain, 55.5 [95% confidence interval 54.2, 56.8] vs. 44.9 [43.2, 46.6], and functional impairment, 59.8 [58.7, 60.9] vs. 50.9 [49.3, 52.4], respectively, both p<0.0001), there was substantial overlap in symptom levels between groups, even when adjusting for radiographic joint status. Thus, it was not possible to determine cut points for pain and function defining ‘requirement for TJR’.
Although symptom levels were higher in patients recommended for TJR, pain and functional disability alone did not discriminate between those who were and were not considered to need TJR by the orthopaedic surgeon.
PMCID: PMC4151518  PMID: 21044689
Knee; hip; osteoarthritis; joint replacement; surgery; symptom
8.  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.
PMCID: PMC3933074  PMID: 24161836
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (synthetic); DMARDs (biologic); Treatment; Early Rheumatoid Arthritis
9.  Efficacy of anakinra in gouty arthritis: a retrospective study of 40 cases 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(5):R123.
Gout is a common arthritis that occurs particularly in patients who frequently have associated comorbidities that limit the use of conventional therapies. The main mechanism of crystal-induced inflammation is interleukin-1 production by activation of the inflammasome. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy and tolerance of anakinra in gouty patients.
We conducted a multicenter retrospective review of patients receiving anakinra for gouty arthritis. We reviewed the response to treatment, adverse events and relapses.
We examined data for 40 gouty patients (32 men; mean age 60.0 ± 13.9 years) receiving anakinra. Mean disease duration was 8.7 ± 8.7 years. All patients showed contraindications to and/or failure of at least two conventional therapies. Most (36; 90%) demonstrated good response to anakinra. Median pain on a 100-mm visual analog scale was rapidly decreased (73.5 (70.0 to 80.0) to 25.0 (20.0 to 32.5) mm, P <0.0001), as was median C-reactive protein (CRP) level (130.5 (55.8 to 238.8) to 16.0 (5.0 to 29.5) mg/l, P <0.0001). After a median follow-up of 7.0 (2.0 to 13.0) months, relapse occurred in 13 patients after a median delay of 15.0 (10.0 to 70.0) days. Seven infectious events, mainly with long-term use of anakinra, were noted.
Anakinra may be efficient in gouty arthritis, is relatively well tolerated with short-term use, and could be a relevant option in managing gouty arthritis when conventional therapies are ineffective or contraindicated. Its long-term use could be limited by infectious complications.
PMCID: PMC3978950  PMID: 24432362
gout; IL-1; anakinra; arthritis
10.  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.
PMCID: PMC3775294  PMID: 23864169
treat-to-target; patient-reported outcomes; assessment; rheumatoid arthritis; patient questionnaires
11.  The ability of synovitis to predict structural damage in rheumatoid arthritis: a comparative study between clinical examination and ultrasound 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(5):665-671.
To evaluate synovitis (clinical vs ultrasound (US)) to predict structural progression in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Patients with RA.
Study design
Prospective, 2-year follow-up.
Data collected
Synovitis (32 joints (2 wrists, 10 metacarpophalangeal, 10 proximal interphalangeal, 10 metatarsophalangeal)) at baseline and after 4 months of therapy by clinical, US grey scale (GS-US) and power doppler (PD-US); x-rays at baseline and at year 2.
Measures of association (OR) were tested between structural deterioration and the presence of baseline synovitis, or its persistence, after 4 months of therapy using generalised estimating equation analysis.
Structural deterioration was observed in 9% of the 1888 evaluated joints in 59 patients. Baseline synovitis increased the risk of structural progression: OR=2.01 (1.36–2.98) p<0.001 versus 1.61 (1.06–2.45) p=0.026 versus 1.75 (1.18–2.58) p=0.005 for the clinical versus US-GS versus US-PD evaluation, respectively. In the joints with normal baseline examination (clinical or US), an increased probability for structural progression in the presence of synovitis for the other modality was also observed (OR=2.16 (1.16–4.02) p=0.015 and 3.50 (1.77–6.95) p<0.001 for US-GS and US-PD and 2.79 (1.35–5.76) p=0.002) for clinical examination. Persistent (vs disappearance) synovitis after 4 months of therapy was also predictive of subsequent structural progression.
This study confirms the validity of synovitis for predicting subsequent structural deterioration irrespective of the modality of examination of joints, but also suggests that both clinical and ultrasonographic examinations may be relevant to optimally evaluate the risk of subsequent structural deterioration.
PMCID: PMC3618684  PMID: 22679298
12.  Scoring radiographic progression in ankylosing spondylitis: should we use the modified Stoke Ankylosing Spondylitis Spine Score (mSASSS) or the Radiographic Ankylosing Spondylitis Spinal Score (RASSS)? 
Radiographic damage is one of the core outcomes in axial SpA and is usually assessed with the modified Stoke Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) Spine Score (mSASSS). Alternatively, the Radiographic AS Spinal Score (RASSS) is proposed, which includes the lower thoracic vertebrae, under the hypothesis that most progression occurs in these segments. We aimed to compare the mSASSS and RASSS with regard to performance.
Two-yearly spinal radiographs from patients followed in the Outcome in AS International Study (OASIS) were used (scored independently by two readers). A total of 195 patients had at least one radiograph (12-year follow-up) to be included. We assessed the accessibility of vertebral corners (VCs) for scoring, as well as status and 2-year progression scores of both scoring methods. To assess the potential additional value of including the thoracic segment in the score, the relative contribution (in %) to the 2-year total RASSS progression of each spinal segment (cervical, thoracic and lumbar) was determined, and compared to the expected contribution, under the assumption that a balanced segmental progression would occur, proportional to the number of sites per segment.
The mSASSS could be scored in a total of 809 radiographs and the RASSS in 78% of these. In 58% of the latter, the score was based on one to two available thoracic VCs scores, and the remaining two to three were imputed because they were missing. There were 520 two-year mSASSS intervals available, and in 63% of them RASSS progression could be assessed. The mean (SD) 2-year interval progression score (330 intervals) was 2.0 (3.6) for the mSASSS and 2.4 (4.4) for the RASSS, yielding a similar effect size (mSASSS 0.57 and RASSS 0.55). Exclusive progression of the thoracic segment occurred in only 5% of the cases. There was no significant difference between the observed (14%) and expected (16%) contribution to progression of the thoracic segment (P = 0.70).
The determination of RASSS for radiographic damage of the spine is frequently impossible or strongly influenced by non-contributory imputation. In comparison to the mSASSS, the contribution of thoracic VCs in the RASSS method is negligible, and does not justify the additional scoring efforts.
PMCID: PMC3672818  PMID: 23327723
13.  OARSI/OMERACT Initiative to Define States of Severity and Indication for Joint Replacement in Hip and Knee Osteoarthritis. An OMERACT 10 Special Interest Group 
The Journal of Rheumatology  2011;38(8):1765-1769.
To define pain and physical function cutpoints that would, coupled with structural severity, define a surrogate measure of “need for joint replacement surgery,” for use as an outcome measure for potential structure-modifying interventions for osteoarthritis (OA).
New scores were developed for pain and physical function in knee and hip OA. A cross-sectional international study in 1909 patients was conducted to define data-driven cutpoints corresponding to the orthopedic surgeons’ indication for joint replacement. A post hoc analysis of 8 randomized clinical trials (1379 patients) evaluated the prevalence and validity of cutpoints, among patients with symptomatic hip/knee OA.
In the international cross-sectional study, there was substantial overlap in symptom levels between patients with and patients without indication for joint replacement; indeed, it was not possible to determine cutpoints for pain and function defining this indication. The post hoc analysis of trial data showed that the prevalence of cases that combined radiological progression, high level of pain, and high degree of function impairment was low (2%–12%). The most discriminatory cutpoint to define an indication for joint replacement was found to be [pain (0–100) + physical function (0–100) > 80].
These results do not support a specific level of pain or function that defines an indication for joint replacement. However, a tentative cutpoint for pain and physical function levels is proposed for further evaluation. Potentially, this symptom level, coupled with radiographic progression, could be used to define “nonresponders” to disease-modifying drugs in OA clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3260473  PMID: 21807799
14.  Defining cut-off values for disease activity states and improvement scores for patient-reported outcomes: the example of the Rheumatoid Arthritis Impact of Disease (RAID) 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(3):R129.
The Rheumatoid Arthritis Impact of Disease (RAID) is a patient-reported outcome measure evaluating the impact of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on patient quality of life. It comprises 7 domains that are evaluated as continuous variables from 0 (best) to 10 (worst). The objective was to define and identify cut-off values for disease activity states as well as improvement scores in order to present results at the individual level (for example, patient in acceptable state, improved patient).
Patients with definite active RA requiring anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapy were seen at screening, baseline and after 4 and 12 weeks of etanercept therapy. Answers to "Gold standard" questions on improvement (MCII: Minimum Clinically Important Improvement) and an acceptable status (PASS: Patient Acceptable Symptom State) were collected as well as the RAID score and Disease Activity Score 28- erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28-ESR). Cut-offs were defined by different techniques including empirical, measurement error and gold standard anchors. The external validity of these cut-offs was evaluated using the positive likelihood ratio (LR) based on the patient's perspective (for example, patient's global) and on low disease activity status (such as DAS28-ESR).
Ninety-seven (97) of the 108 recruited patients (age: 54 ± 13 years old, female gender: 75%, rheumatoid factor positive: 81%, disease duration: 8 ± 7 years, CRP: 18 ± 30 mg/l, DAS28-ESR: 5.4 ± 0.8) completed the 12 weeks of the study. The different techniques suggested thresholds ranging from 0.2 to 3 (absolute change) and from 6 to 50% (relative change) for defining MCII and thresholds from less than 1 to less than 4.2 for defining PASS. The evaluation of external validity (LR+) showed the highest LR+ was obtained with thresholds of 3 for absolute change; 50% for relative change and less than 2 for an acceptable status.
This study showed that thresholds defined for continuous variables are closely related to the methodological technique, justifying a systematic evaluation of their validity. Our results suggested that a change of at least 3 points (absolute) or 50% (relative) in the RAID score should be used to define a MCII and that a maximal value of 2 defines an acceptable status.
Trial Registration NCT004768053
PMCID: PMC3446510  PMID: 22647431
15.  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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3115717  PMID: 21294106
16.  Profile and course of early rheumatoid arthritis in Morocco: a two-year follow-up study 
This study aimed to establish the profile and the evolution of an early Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) cohort in the Moroccan population and also to search possible predictor factors of structural progression.
Patients with early RA (< 12 months) were enrolled in a 2-year follow-up study. Clinical, biological, immunogenetic, and radiographical data were analyzed at study entry and at 24 months. Presence of radiographic progression was retained when the total score was superior to the smallest detectable difference (SDD) calculated to be 5.4 according the Sharp/van der Heijde (SVDH) method.
Fifty one patients (88.8% women, mean age of 46.9 [ 24-72 ] ± 10.8 years, mean disease duration of 24 [ 6-48 ] ± 13.9 weeks) were enrolled in this study. 68.6% were illiterate and 19.6% reported at least one comorbid condition. The mean delay in referral for specialist care was 140 [ 7-420 ] ± 43 days.
Thirteen patients (62.5%) were IgM or IgA RF positive. HLA-DRB1*01 and DRB1*04 alleles were present respectively in 11.8% and 45.1% of patients.
At baseline, 35.3% patients were taking corticosteroids and 7.8% were under conventional DMARDs.
At 24 months, 77.2% received a median dose of 5 mg/day of prednisone. Methotrexate (MTX) was the most frequently prescribed DMARD, being taken by 65.2% of patients. 13.6% of patients had stopped their DMARD because of socioeconomic difficulties.
Comparison of clinical and biologic parameters between baseline and 24 months thereafter revealed a significant global improvement of the disease status including morning stiffness, pain score, swollen joint count, DAS 28 and HAQ scores, ESR and CRP.
Sixteen patients (34.8%) were in remission at 2 years versus no patients at baseline; P < 0.001.
Forteen patients (27.5%) had at least one erosion at baseline. Radiographic progression occurred in 33.3% of patients and was associated in univariate analysis to swollen joint count (p = 0.03), total SVDH score (P = 0.04) and joint space narrowing score (P = 0.03). No independent factors of radiographic progression were shown by logistic regression.
These study reports, provided for the first time in Morocco, a developing African country, a large amount of information concerning the profile and the course of early RA.
Patients who were receiving, for most of them, Methotrexate in monotherapy and low doses of corticosteroids, showed an improvement of all clinic and biologic disease parameters. Moreover, DAS remission was obtained in one third of patients and two thirds of the cohort had no radiographic progression at 2 years. No predictor factors of radiographic progression were found out.
These results should be confirmed or not by a large unbiased RA cohort which will give more relevant information about early RA characteristics and its course and will constitute a major keystone of its management.
PMCID: PMC3239294  PMID: 22111841
17.  Risk of infections in bronchiectasis during disease-modifying treatment and biologics for rheumatic diseases 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:304.
Bronchiectasis is frequently associated (up to 30%) with chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases and leads to lower respiratory tract infections. Data are lacking on the risk of lower respiratory tract infections in patients treated with biologic agents.
Monocenter, retrospective systematic study of all patients with a chronic inflammatory rheumatic disease and concomitant bronchiectasis, seen between 2000 and 2009. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to evidence predictive factors of the number of infectious respiratory events.
47 patients were included (mean age 64.1 ± 9.1 years, 33 (70.2%) women), with a mean follow-up per patient of 4.3 ± 3.1 years. Rheumatoid arthritis was the main rheumatic disease (90.1%). The mean number of infectious events was 0.8 ± 1.0 event per patient-year. The factors predicting infections were the type of treatment (biologic vs. non biologic disease-modifying treatments), with an odds ratio of 8.7 (95% confidence interval: 1.7-43.4) and sputum colonization by any bacteria (odds ratio 7.4, 2.0-26.8). In multivariate analysis, both factors were independently predictive of infections.
Lower respiratory tract infectious events are frequent among patients receiving biologics for chronic inflammatory rheumatic disease associated with bronchiectasis. Biologic treatment and pre-existing sputum colonization are independent risk factors of infection occurrence.
PMCID: PMC3229465  PMID: 22046967
18.  The 2010 American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism Classification Criteria for Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(9):2582-2591.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3077961  PMID: 20872596
19.  The appropriate use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in rheumatic disease: opinions of a multidisciplinary European expert panel 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;70(5):818-822.
Given the safety issues of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) and the robustness of guidelines, making treatment choices in daily clinical practice is increasingly difficult. This study aimed systematically to analyse the opinions of a multidisciplinary European expert panel on the appropriateness of different NSAID, with or without the use of a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), in individual patients with chronic rheumatic disease.
Using the Research and Development/University of California at Los Angeles appropriateness method, the appropriateness of five (non-)selective NSAID with or without a PPI was assessed for 144 hypothetical patient profiles, ie, unique combinations of cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risk factors. Appropriateness statements were calculated for all indications.
All options without PPI were considered appropriate in patients with no gastrointestinal/cardiovascular risk factors. Cyclooxygenase-2 selective inhibitors (C2SI) alone and non-selective NSAID plus PPI were preferred for patients with elevated gastrointestinal risk and low cardiovascular risk. Naproxen plus PPI was favoured in patients with high cardiovascular risk. For the combination of high gastrointestinal/high cardiovascular risk the use of any NSAID was discouraged; if needed, naproxen plus PPI or a C2SI plus PPI could be considered.
The panel results may support treatment considerations at the level of individual patients, according to their gastrointestinal/cardiovascular risk profile.
PMCID: PMC3070276  PMID: 20833736
20.  Research in hand osteoarthritis: time for reappraisal and demand for new strategies. An opinion paper 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(9):1157-1161.
Osteoarthritis of the hands is a prevalent musculoskeletal disease with a considerable effect on patients' lives, but knowledge and research results in the field of hand osteoarthritis are limited. Therefore, the Disease Characteristics in Hand OA (DICHOA) initiative was founded in early 2005 with the aim of addressing key issues and facilitating research into hand osteoarthritis.
To review and discuss current knowledge on hand osteoarthritis with regard to aetiopathogenesis, diagnostic criteria, biomarkers and clinical outcome measures.
Recommendations were made based on a literature review.
Outcomes of hand osteoarthritis should be explored, including patient perspective on the separate components of disease activity, damage and functioning. All imaging techniques should be cross‐validated for hand osteoarthritis with clinical status, including disease activity, function and performance, biomarkers and long‐term outcome. New imaging modalities are available and need scoring systems and validation. The role of biomarkers in hand osteoarthritis has to be defined.
Future research in hand osteoarthritis is warranted.
PMCID: PMC1955144  PMID: 17360780
osteoarthritis; hand; outcome measures; biomarkers; imaging
21.  Risk factors for total joint arthroplasty infection in patients receiving tumor necrosis factor α-blockers: a case-control study 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(4):R145.
The objective of this study was to assess natural microbial agents, history and risk factors for total joint arthroplasty (TJA) infections in patients receiving tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α-blockers, through the French RATIO registry and a case-control study.
Cases were TJA infections during TNFα-blocker treatments. Each case was compared to two controls (with TJA and TNFα-blocker therapy, but without TJA infection) matched on age (±15 years), TJA localization, type of rheumatic disorder and disease duration (±15 years). Statistical analyses included univariate and multivariate analyses with conditional logistic regression.
In the 20 cases (18 rheumatoid arthritis), TJA infection concerned principally the knee (n = 12, 60%) and the hip (n = 5, 25%). Staphylococcus was the more frequent microorganism involved (n = 15, 75%). Four patients (20%) were hospitalized in an intensive care unit and two died from infection. Eight cases (40%) versus 5 controls (13%) had undergone primary TJA or TJA revision for the joint subsequently infected during the last year (P = 0.03). Of these procedures, 5 cases versus 1 control were performed without withdrawing TNFα-blockers (P = 0.08). In multivariate analysis, predictors of infection were primary TJA or TJA revision for the joint subsequently infected within the last year (odds ratio, OR = 88.3; 95%CI 1.1-7,071.6; P = 0.04) and increased daily steroid intake (OR = 5.0 per 5 mg/d increase; 1.1-21.6; P = 0.03). Case-control comparisons showed similar distribution between TNFα-blockers (P = 0.70).
In patients receiving TNFα-blockers, TJA infection is rare but potentially severe. Important risk factors are primary TJA or TJA revision within the last year, particularly when TNFα-blockers are not interrupted before surgery, and the daily steroid intake.
PMCID: PMC2945039  PMID: 20637100
22.  How do the EQ‐5D, SF‐6D and the well‐being rating scale compare in patients with ankylosing spondylitis? 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(6):771-777.
To compare aspects of validity of EuroQol—5 Dimensions (EQ‐5D) and Short‐Form—6 Dimensions (SF‐6D), two indirect utility instruments, and the well‐being rating scale (RS) in ankylosing spondylitis (AS).
EQ‐5D, SF‐6D and RS were available for 254 patients fulfilling modified New York criteria. 134 patients were part of an observational cohort and 120 were part of a randomised controlled trial (RCT). Aspects of validity assessed were truth (agreement and correlation with external health measures) and discrimination (differentiation between health states, repeatability and detection of treatment effect).
Median (range) values were 0.69 (−0.08–1.00) for the EQ‐5D, 0.65 (0.35–0.95) for the SF‐6D and 0.65 (0.14–1.00) for the RS. Agreement (intraclass correlation coefficient) was moderate (0.46–0.55). Instruments correlated equally with disease activity, functioning and quality of life. The SF‐6D showed smaller average differences in utility between patients with better and worse disease compared with the EQ‐5D and the RS. The smallest detectable difference (SDD) (in the control group of RCT) was 0.36, 0.17 and 0.33 for EQ‐5D, SF‐6D and RS, respectively. The ability to detect treatment effect (in the intervention trial) showed standardised effect sizes that were moderate for EQ‐5D and SF‐6D (0.63 and 0.64) and low for the RS (0.23).
In patients with AS, EQ‐5D, SF‐6D and the RS correlate equally well with external measures of health, but have different psychometric properties. The SDD is most favourable for the SF‐6D, but it discriminates less well between patients with different disease severities. The RS has a poorer ability to detect treatment effects. It is difficult to recommend one of the instruments.
PMCID: PMC1954676  PMID: 17213254
23.  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.
PMCID: PMC2935329  PMID: 20444750
24.  Clinical trial of a leucotriene B4 receptor antagonist, BIIL 284, in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;66(5):628-632.
Several clinical and experimental lines of evidence suggest that leucotriene B4 (LTB4), an arachidonic acid derivative with potent proinflammatory properties, plays a key role in the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
To evaluate the efficacy and safety of BIIL 284, an oral long‐acting LTB4 receptor antagonist, as monotherapy for the treatment of patients with active RA.
This was a multi‐centre, randomised, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled trial of patients with active RA of 3 months' duration. A total of 342 patients were randomised to receive 5 mg, 25 mg or 75 mg of BIIL 284 or placebo. The primary end point was the percentage of patients achieving an American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 20.
Although a higher percentage of ACR 20 responders was observed in the groups treated with 25 mg and 75 mg of BIIL 284 compared with those treated with placebo, no statistically significant differences were found between any of the three active treatment groups compared with the placebo group with regard to the primary or secondary end points. All trial treatments were safe and well tolerated.
This clinical trial demonstrates that treatment of patients with active RA with a potent oral long‐acting LTB4 receptor antagonist produced only modest improvements in disease activity. The results of this trial support the conclusion that LTB4 is not a major contributor to the inflammatory process in RA.
PMCID: PMC1954613  PMID: 17170051
25.  Reproducibility and sensitivity to change of four scoring methods for the radiological assessment of osteoarthritis of the hand 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;66(4):464-469.
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the hand could be a relevant model to study the progression of OA in structure‐modification trials. Various methods are proposed to assess hand OA and its progression radiologically.
To compare intra‐reader and inter‐reader precision and sensitivity to change of four radiological scoring methods proposed in hand OA.
2 trained readers scored separately 105 pairs of radiographs (baseline; year 1), selected from patients enrolled in a randomised controlled trial, for inter‐reader reliability and sensitivity to change. They scored twice 60 pairs among the 105 for cross‐sectional and longitudinal intra‐reader reliability. Radiological hand OA assessment used: global, Kellgren–Lawrence (KL), Kallman and Verbruggen scoring methods. Inter‐ and intra‐reader reliabilities were studied using intraclass coefficient (ICC) and the Bland–Altman method. Sensitivity to change was compared by calculating the standardised response means.
Transversal intra‐reader reproducibility ICCs ranged from 0.922 to 0.999. Verbruggen ranked the highest, followed by the KL and Kallman methods. Inter‐rater reliability was higher for the Verbruggen scores, followed by the KL, global and Kallman scores (ICC 0.706–0.999). Longitudinal intra‐reader reliability (baseline; year 1) was better using the Kallman and KL (ICC 0.986 and 0.990), followed by the Verbruggen (0.941) or global methods (0.939). Standardised response means ranged from 0.24 (KL) to 0.29 (Kallman).
All four methods compared well with respect to reliabilities. However, the Verbruggen and Kallman methods performed better. The method most sensitive to change was the Kallman method, followed by Verbruggen and global scores. This study also suggests that structural changes could be detected in hand OA over a 1‐year period.
PMCID: PMC1856039  PMID: 17107982

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