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1.  Incidence and Predictors of Secondary Fibromyalgia in an Early Arthritis Cohort 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2012;72(6):949-954.
Secondary fibromyalgia (FM) is common among patients with inflammatory arthritis, but little is known about its incidence and the factors leading to its development. We examined the incidence of secondary FM in an early inflammatory arthritis cohort and assessed the association between pain, inflammation, psychosocial variables and the clinical diagnosis of FM.
We analyzed data from 1487 patients in the Canadian Early Arthritis Cohort, a prospective, observational Canadian cohort of early inflammatory arthritis patients. Diagnoses of FM were determined by rheumatologists. Incidence rates were calculated, and Cox regression models were used to determine hazard ratios for FM risk.
The cumulative incidence rate was 6.77 (95% CI 5.19–8.64) per 100 person years during the first 12 months after inflammatory arthritis diagnosis and decreased to 3.58 (95% CI 1.86–6.17) per 100 person years 12–24 months after arthritis diagnosis. Pain severity (HR 2.01, 95% CI 1.17–3.46) and poor mental health (HR 1.99, 95% CI 1.09–3.62) predicted FM risk. CCP positivity (HR 0.48, 95% CI 0.26–0.88) was associated with decreased FM risk. Serum inflammatory markers and swollen joint count were not significantly associated with FM risk.
The incidence of FM was from 3.58 to 6.77 cases per 100 person years and was highest during the first 12 months after diagnosis of inflammatory arthritis. Although inflammation was not associated with the clinical diagnosis of FM, pain severity and poor mental health were associated with the clinical diagnosis of FM. Seropositivity was inversely associated with the clinical diagnosis of FM.
PMCID: PMC3488361  PMID: 22791744
Early Rheumatoid Arthritis; Fibromyalgia/Pain Syndromes; Epidemiology
2.  Comparison of composite measures of disease activity in an early seropositive rheumatoid arthritis cohort 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(12):1633-1640.
To evaluate concordance and agreement of the original DAS44/ESR‐4 item composite disease activity status measure with nine simpler derivatives when classifying patient responses by European League of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR) criteria, using an early rheumatoid factor positive (RF+) rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patient cohort.
Disease‐modifying anti‐rheumatic drug‐naïve RF+ patients (n = 223; mean duration of symptoms, 6 months) were categorised as ACR none/20/50/70 responders. One‐way analysis of variance and two‐sample t tests were used to investigate the relationship between the ACR response groups and each composite measure. EULAR reached/change cut‐point scores were calculated for each composite measure. EULAR (good/moderate/none) responses for each composite measure and the degree of agreement with the DAS44/ESR‐4 item were calculated for 203 patients.
Patients were mostly female (78%) with moderate to high disease activity. A centile‐based nomogram compared equivalent composite measure scores. Changes from baseline in the composite measures in patients with ACRnone were significantly less than those of ACR20/50/70 responders, and those for ACR50 were significantly different from those for ACR70. EULAR reached/change cut‐point scores for our cohort were similar to published cut‐points. When compared with the DAS44/ESR‐4 item, EULAR (good/moderate/none) percentage agreements were 92 with the DAS44/ESR‐3 item, 74 with the Clinical Disease Activity Index, and 80 with the DAS28/ESR‐4 item, the DAS28/CRP‐4 item and the Simplified Disease Activity Index.
The relationships of nine different RA composite measures against the DAS44/ESR‐4 item when applied to a cohort of seropositive patients with early RA are described. Each of these simplified status and response measures could be useful in assessing patients with RA, but the specific measure selected should be pre‐specified and described for each study.
PMCID: PMC2095300  PMID: 17472996
3.  TNFα modulates protein degradation pathways in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts 
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory and destructive disease of the joint. The synovial lining consists of two main types of cells: synovial fibroblasts and macrophages. The macrophage-derived cytokine TNFα stimulates RA synovial fibroblasts to proliferate and produce growth factors, chemokines, proteinases and adhesion molecules, making them key players in the RA disease process. If proteins are not correctly folded, cellular stress occurs that can be relieved in part by increased degradation of the aberrant proteins by the proteasome or autophagy. We hypothesized that the activity of the protein degradation pathways would be increased in response to TNFα stimulation in RA synovial fibroblasts compared with control fibroblasts.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress markers were examined in synovial fibroblasts by immunoblotting and PCR. Use of the autophagy and proteasome protein degradation pathways in response to TNFα stimulation was determined using a combination of experiments involving chemical inhibition of the autophagy or proteasome pathways followed by immunoblotting for the autophagy marker LC3, measurement of proteasome activity and long-lived protein degradation, and determination of cellular viability.
RA synovial fibroblasts are under acute ER stress, and the stress is increased in the presence of TNFα. Autophagy is the main pathway used to relieve the ER stress in unstimulated fibroblasts, and both autophagy and the proteasome are more active in RA synovial fibroblasts compared with control fibroblasts. In response to TNFα, the autophagy pathway but not the proteasome is consistently stimulated, yet there is an increased dependence on the proteasome for cell viability. If autophagy is blocked in the presence of TNFα, an increase in proteasome activity occurs in RA synovial fibroblasts but not in control cells.
TNFα stimulation of synovial fibroblasts results in increased expression of ER stress markers. Survival of synovial fibroblasts is dependent on continuous removal of proteins by both the lysosome/autophagy and ubiquitin/proteasome protein degradation pathways. Both pathways are more active in RA synovial fibroblasts compared with control fibroblasts. These results may provide a better understanding of the mechanism of TNFα on prolonging the survival of synovial fibroblasts in RA tissue.
PMCID: PMC3446430  PMID: 22417670
4.  Safety and effectiveness of adalimumab in a clinical setting that reflects Canadian standard of care for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA): Results from the CanACT study 
This multicenter, open-label, prospective, single cohort study evaluated the effectiveness and safety of adalimumab in a clinical setting reflecting the Canadian standard of care for the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Patients ≥ 18 years of age with a history of active RA ≥ 3 months and fulfilling Canadian requirements for biological therapy received adalimumab 40 mg subcutaneously every other week for 12 weeks. Pre-study DMARD treatment regimens, corticosteroids, or NSAIDs were allowed throughout the study. The primary effectiveness outcome measure was the mean change in 28-joint disease activity score (DAS28) from baseline to Week 12. Secondary measures included the proportion of patients achieving joint remission (DAS28 < 2.6) and low-disease activity (DAS28 < 3.2) at Week 12, and European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR: moderate and good) and American College of Rheumatology (ACR: ACR20, 50, and 70) responses, as well as responses in ACR core components at Weeks 4, 8, and 12. Subgroup analysis included a comparison of patients naïve to biological DMARD (BDMARD) therapy versus BDMARD-experienced patients. Safety was assessed in terms of adverse and serious adverse events.
A total of 879 patients (mean disease duration > 12 years) were enrolled; 772 (87.9%) completed the 12-week period. Adalimumab treatment was associated with rapid and sustained improvements in the signs and symptoms of RA. Significant improvements in mean DAS28 score were observed as early as Week 4. After 12 weeks of adalimumab treatment, 15.3% and 28.9% of patients achieved clinical remission and low-disease activity, respectively. Similarly, significant improvements in ACR core components were observed as early as Week 4, with continued improvements occurring through 12 weeks. Patients naïve to BDMARD therapy demonstrated numerically greater clinical responses when compared with patients who had experienced prior BDMARD therapy, although both subgroups were associated with significant improvements from baseline. The rates and types of adverse events, as well as the results of laboratory measures, demonstrated that adalimumab was generally safe and well-tolerated.
This study demonstrated that, under conditions reflective of the normal clinical practice in Canada, adalimumab is an effective and safe treatment for patients with RA.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3226526  PMID: 22093579
5.  Safety and efficacy of baricitinib at 24 weeks in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who have had an inadequate response to methotrexate 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2014;74(2):333-340.
To investigate baricitinib (LY3009104, formerly INCB028050), a novel, oral inhibitor of JAK1/JAK2 in patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) despite treatment with methotrexate.
In this phase IIb study, 301 patients were randomised 2:1:1:1:1 to receive once daily doses of placebo or 1, 2, 4 or 8 mg baricitinib for 12 weeks. Patients assigned to 2, 4 and 8 mg baricitinib continued blinded treatment for an additional 12 weeks. Patients assigned to placebo or 1 mg baricitinib were reassigned to 2 mg twice daily or 4 mg once daily baricitinib between weeks 12–24. The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients in the combined 4 and 8 mg groups achieving an American College of Rheumatology 20% (ACR20) response versus placebo at week 12.
Significantly more patients in the combined baricitinib 4 and 8 mg groups compared with placebo achieved an ACR20 response at week 12 (76% vs 41%, p<0.001). At week 12, significant differences versus placebo were also observed in patients achieving ACR50, ACR70 and remission as measured by Disease Activity Score for 28-joint counts, Clinical Disease Activity Index and Simplified Disease Activity Index. Patients receiving 2, 4, or 8 mg baricitinib maintained or improved in all measures through 24 weeks. Similar proportions of patients experienced at least one adverse event in the placebo and baricitinib groups. Serious infections developed in three patients receiving baricitinib. No cases of tuberculosis, herpes zoster, opportunistic infections or deaths were reported. Dose-dependent decreases in haemoglobin were observed with baricitinib.
Baricitinib improved the signs and symptoms of RA in methotrexate inadequate responders with active disease. Baricitinib was well tolerated with no unexpected safety findings through week 24.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC4316868  PMID: 25431052
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Methotrexate; Inflammation; DMARDs (biologic)
6.  Fibrocyte activation in rheumatoid arthritis 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2010;49(4):640-651.
Objectives. RA is a common, relapsing autoimmune disease primarily affecting the joints. Fibroblast-like synovial (FLS) cells are thought to be responsible for pannus formation and secretion of factors that recruit leucocytes to affected joints, thereby promoting bone and cartilage destruction. Fibrocytes are multipotent circulating stem cells that may have a role in RA pathogenesis, perhaps as the precursors of the FLS cells, or by regulating FLS cell function.
Methods. We utilized multidimensional phospho-specific flow cytometry to characterize the activation status of peripheral blood (PB) fibrocytes derived from human RA patients at different stages of disease and from mice with CIA.
Results. Human PB fibrocytes from RA patients exhibited phosporylation activation of the p44/42 and p38 MAP kinases (MAPKs), and STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription) and STAT-5 early in disease, within the first year of diagnosis. Similarly, in murine CIA, an increase in the total number of PB phosphoSTAT5-positive fibrocytes was observed at early time points in disease. Notably, in the affected paws of mice with CIA, we identified an increased number of fibrocytes, in contrast to the paws of control mice.
Conclusions. These data suggest that activated fibrocytes may influence the disease process in RA and may serve as surrogate markers for disease in the PB of affected patients.
PMCID: PMC2909797  PMID: 19858121
Rheumatoid arthritis; Peripheral blood; Stem cell; FACS; Collagen-induced arthritis
7.  Evidence for treating rheumatoid arthritis to target: results of a systematic literature search 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;69(4):638-643.
To summarise existing evidence on a target oriented approach for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment.
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).
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3015093  PMID: 20237123
8.  Treating rheumatoid arthritis to target: recommendations of an international task force 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;69(4):631-637.
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).
To develop recommendations for achieving optimal therapeutic outcomes in RA.
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.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC3015099  PMID: 20215140
9.  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.
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).
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.
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.
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 NCT00152386.
PMCID: PMC3003523  PMID: 19909548
10.  Multiparameter Phospho-Flow Analysis of Lymphocytes in Early Rheumatoid Arthritis: Implications for Diagnosis and Monitoring Drug Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(8):e6703.
The precise mechanisms involved in the initiation and progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are not known. Early stages of RA often have non-specific symptoms, delaying diagnosis and therapy. Additionally, there are currently no established means to predict clinical responsiveness to therapy. Immune cell activation is a critical component therefore we examined the cellular activation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in the early stages of RA, in order to develop a novel diagnostic modality.
Methods and Findings
PBMCs were isolated from individuals diagnosed with early RA (ERA) (n = 38), longstanding RA (n = 10), osteoarthritis (OA) (n = 19) and from healthy individuals (n = 10). PBMCs were examined for activation of 15 signaling effectors, using phosphorylation status as a measure of activation in immunophenotyped cells, by flow cytometry (phospho-flow). CD3+CD4+, CD3+CD8+ and CD20+ cells isolated from patients with ERA, RA and OA exhibited activation of multiple phospho-epitopes. ERA patient PBMCs showed a bias towards phosphorylation-activation in the CD4+ and CD20+ compartments compared to OA PBMCs, where phospho-activation was primarily observed in CD8+ cells. The ratio of phospho (p)-AKT/p-p38 was significantly elevated in patients with ERA and may have diagnostic potential. The mean fluorescent intensity (MFI) levels for p-AKT and p-H3 in CD4+, CD8+ and CD20+ T cells correlated directly with physician global assessment scores (MDGA) and DAS (disease activity score). Stratification by medications revealed that patients receiving leflunomide, systemic steroids or anti-TNF therapy had significant reductions in phospho-specific activation compared with patients not receiving these therapies. Correlative trends between medication-associated reductions in the levels of phosphorylation of specific signaling effectors and lower disease activity were observed.
Phospho-flow analysis identified phosphorylation-activation of specific signaling effectors in the PB from patients with ERA. Notably, phosphorylation of these signaling effectors did not distinguish ERA from late RA, suggesting that the activation status of discrete cell populations is already established early in disease. However, when the ratio of MFI values for p-AKT and p-p38 is >1.5, there is a high likelihood of having a diagnosis of RA. Our results suggest that longitudinal sampling of patients undergoing therapy may result in phospho-signatures that are predictive of drug responsiveness.
PMCID: PMC2724743  PMID: 19693272
11.  Inhibition of protein geranylgeranylation induces apoptosis in synovial fibroblasts 
Statins, competitive inhibitors of hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase, have recently been shown to have a therapeutic effect in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In RA, synovial fibroblasts in the synovial lining, are believed to be particularly important in the pathogenesis of disease because they recruit leukocytes into the synovium and secrete angiogenesis-promoting molecules and proteases that degrade extracellular matrix. In this study, we show a marked reduction in RA synovial fibroblast survival through the induction of apoptosis when the cells were cultured with statins. Simvastatin was more effective in RA synovial fibroblasts than atorvastatin, and both statins were more potent on tumor necrosis factor-α-induced cells. In contrast, in osteoarthritis synovial fibroblasts, neither the statin nor the activation state of the cell contributed to the efficacy of apoptosis induction. Viability of statin-treated cells could be rescued by geranylgeraniol but not by farnesol, suggesting a requirement for a geranylgeranylated protein for synovial fibroblast survival. Phase partitioning experiments confirmed that in the presence of statin, geranylgeranylated proteins are redistributed to the cytoplasm. siRNA experiments demonstrated a role for Rac1 in synovial fibroblast survival. Western blotting showed that the activated phosphorylated form of Akt, a protein previously implicated in RA synovial fibroblast survival, was decreased by about 75%. The results presented in this study lend further support to the importance of elevated pAkt levels to RA synovial fibroblast survival and suggest that statins might have a beneficial role in reducing the aberrant pAkt levels in patients with RA. The results may also partly explain the therapeutic effect of atorvastatin in patients with RA.
PMCID: PMC1779395  PMID: 16774691
12.  p53 tumor suppressor gene mutations in fibroblast-like synoviocytes from erosion synovium and non-erosion synovium in rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;7(1):R12-R18.
Abnormalities in the p53 tumor suppressor gene have been detected in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and could contribute to the pathogenesis of chronic disease. To determine whether synoviocytes from invasive synovium in RA have an increased number of mutations compared with non-erosion synoviocytes, p53 cDNA subclones from fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) derived from erosion and non-erosion sites of the same synovium were examined in patients requiring total joint replacement. Ten erosion FLS lines and nine non-erosion FLS lines were established from nine patients with RA. Exons 5–10 from 209 p53 subclones were sequenced (114 from erosion FLS, 95 from non-erosion FLS). Sixty percent of RA FLS cell lines and 8.6% of the p53 subclones isolated from FLS contained p53 mutations. No significant differences were observed between the erosion and non-erosion FLS with regard to the frequency or type of p53 mutation. The majority of the mutations were missense transition mutations, which are characteristic of oxidative damage. In addition, paired intact RA synovium and cultured FLS from the same joints were evaluated for p53 mutations. Matched synovium and cultured synoviocytes contained p53 mutations, although there was no overlap in the specific mutations identified in the paired samples. Clusters of p53 mutations in subclones were detected in some FLS, including one in codon 249, which is a well-recognized 'hot spot' associated with cancer. Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that p53 mutations are randomly induced by genotoxic exposure in small numbers of RA synoviocytes localized to erosion and non-erosion regions of RA synovium. The determining factor for invasiveness might be proximity to bone or cartilage rather than the presence of a p53 mutation.
PMCID: PMC1064878  PMID: 15642132
erosion; fibroblast-like synoviocytes; invasiveness; p53 mutation; rheumatoid arthritis
13.  Assessment by MRI of inflammation and damage in rheumatoid arthritis patients with methotrexate inadequate response receiving golimumab: results of the GO-FORWARD trial 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;70(11):1968-1974.
To evaluate golimumab's effect on MRI-detected inflammation and structural damage in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) despite methotrexate (MTX).
Patients (n=444) were randomly assigned to placebo plus MTX, golimumab 100 mg plus placebo, golimumab 50 mg plus MTX, or golimumab 100 mg plus MTX (subcutaneous injections every 4 weeks). A subset of 240 patients participated in an MRI substudy. MRIs (1.5T+contrast enhancement) of the dominant wrist and metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints were obtained at baseline and weeks 12 and 24. Images were scored by two independent, blinded readers for synovitis (0–9 wrist only (n=240), 0–21 wrist+MCP (n=223)), bone oedema (osteitis) (0–69) and bone erosions (0–230) using the OMERACT Rheumatoid Arthritis MRI Scoring system.
Significant improvements in synovitis and bone oedema (osteitis) were observed in the combined golimumab plus MTX groups versus placebo plus MTX at week 12 (−1.77 vs −0.15, p<0.001 wrist+MCP and −2.00 vs 0.19, p=0.003, respectively) and week 24 (−1.91 vs −0.38, p<0.001 wrist+MCP and −1.74 vs 0.71, p=0.004, respectively). Fewer than 10% of patients had a substantial degree of erosive progression (most showed no progression) across all treatment groups (including the control group), precluding adequate evaluation of golimumab's effect on bone erosions.
Golimumab plus MTX significantly improved MRI-detected synovitis and osteitis (prognosticators of future structural damage) versus placebo plus MTX at weeks 12 and 24. The effect of golimumab on bone erosions could not be determined by semi-quantitative scoring in these RA patients with minimal progression of bone erosions.
PMCID: PMC3184239  PMID: 21784729
14.  Exploratory analyses of the association of MRI with clinical, laboratory and radiographic findings in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;70(12):2126-2130.
Evaluate relationships between MRI and clinical/laboratory/radiographic findings in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
637 methotrexate-naive patients (GO-BEFORE) and 444 patients with active RA despite methotrexate (GO-FORWARD) were randomly assigned to subcutaneous placebo + methotrexate, golimumab 100mg + placebo, golimumab 50mg + methotrexate, or golimumab 100mg + methotrexate every-4-weeks. In GO-BEFORE(n=318) and GO-FORWARD(n=240) substudies, MRI of dominant wrist/metacarpophalangeal joints were scored for synovitis, bone oedema and bone erosion (RA MRI scoring (RAMRIS) system). Relationships between RAMRIS scores and serum C-reactive protein (CRP), 28-joint count disease activity score (DAS28–CRP) and van der Heijde modified Sharp (vdH-S) scores were assessed.
Baseline and weeks 24/28 DAS28–CRP, CRP, and vdH-S generally correlated well with baseline and week 24 RAMRIS synovitis, oedema and erosion scores. Early (week 4) CRP changes correlated with later (week 12) RAMRIS synovitis/oedema change scores; earlier (week 12) changes in some RAMRIS scores correlated with later (weeks 24/28) changes in vdH-S. Significant correlations between RAMRIS change scores and clinical/radiographic change scores were weak.
MRI and clinical/laboratory/radiographic measures generally correlated well. Associations between earlier changes in CRP and later changes in RAMRIS synovitis/osteitis were observed. Changes in MRI and clinical/radiographic measures did not correlate well, probably because MRI is more sensitive than radiographs and more objective than DAS28–CRP.
PMCID: PMC3212698  PMID: 21926186
15.  Association of joint space narrowing with impairment of physical function and work ability in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis: protection beyond disease control by adalimumab plus methotrexate 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(7):1156-1162.
Tumour necrosis factor inhibition plus methotrexate is believed to inhibit radiographic progression independent of inflammation. This analysis assessed whether these protective effects are exerted on bone (joint erosion; JE) and/or cartilage (joint space narrowing; JSN), and what the independent effects of JE/JSN progression are on longer-term patient-reported outcomes.
PREMIER was a 2-year, randomised, controlled trial of adalimumab plus methotrexate (ADA+MTX) versus the monotherapies. The impact of treatment on the relationships between time-averaged disease activity (TA-DAS28(CRP)) and changes in JE/JSN and associations of JE/JSN with the disability index of the health assessment questionnaire (HAQ-DI) at baseline and weeks 52 and 104 were assessed through non-parametric approaches of analysis of variance and quantile regression. JE/JSN association with employment status was evaluated at baseline and weeks 52 and 104 through logistic regression.
Increasing tertiles of TA-DAS28(CRP) were associated with JE and JSN progression in the monotherapy groups, a phenomenon largely absent in ADA+MTX-treated patients. Although JSN was not associated with HAQ-DI at baseline, it was at 52 and 104 weeks. In contrast, JE was not associated with HAQ-DI at any time point examined. Odds of being employed at baseline, 52 weeks and 104 weeks were significantly associated with lower JSN, but not JE, scores.
ADA+MTX inhibited both JE and JSN progression independently of disease activity. JSN played a more prominent role in patient-reported outcomes than JE. Preventing the onset or worsening of JSN probably represents a critical aspect of effective disease management of early rheumatoid arthritis patients.
PMCID: PMC3686261  PMID: 22915617
16.  Long-term safety of rituximab in rheumatoid arthritis: 9.5-year follow-up of the global clinical trial programme with a focus on adverse events of interest in RA patients 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(9):1496-1502.
Evaluation of long-term safety of rituximab in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Pooled observed case analysis of data from patients with moderate-to-severe, active RA treated with rituximab in a global clinical trial programme.
As of September 2010, 3194 patients had received up to 17 rituximab courses over 9.5 years (11 962 patient-years). Of these, 627 had >5 years’ follow-up (4418 patient-years). A pooled placebo population (n=818) (placebo+methotrexate (MTX)) was also analysed. Serious adverse event and infection rates generally remained stable over time and multiple courses. The overall serious infection event (SIE) rate was 3.94/100 patient-years (3.26/100 patient-years in patients observed for >5 years) and was comparable with placebo+MTX (3.79/100 patient-years). Serious opportunistic infections were rare. Overall, 22.4% (n=717) of rituximab-treated patients developed low immunoglobulin (Ig)M and 3.5% (n=112) low IgG levels for ≥4 months after ≥1 course. SIE rates were similar before and during/after development of low Ig levels; however, in patients with low IgG, rates were higher than in patients who never developed low IgG. Rates of myocardial infarction and stroke were consistent with rates in the general RA population. No increased risk of malignancy over time was observed.
This analysis demonstrates that rituximab remains generally well tolerated over time and multiple courses, with a safety profile consistent with published data and clinical trial experience. Overall, the findings indicate that there was no evidence of an increased safety risk or increased reporting rates of any types of adverse events with prolonged exposure to rituximab during the 9.5 years of observation.
PMCID: PMC3756452  PMID: 23136242
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Treatment; B cells
17.  The Canadian Methotrexate and Etanercept Outcome Study: a randomised trial of discontinuing versus continuing methotrexate after 6 months of etanercept and methotrexate therapy in rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;73(12):2144-2151.
To determine if withdrawing methotrexate (MTX) after 6 months of combination etanercept (ETN)+MTX, in MTX-inadequate responders with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is non-inferior to continuing ETN+MTX.
Tumour necrosis factor-inhibitor naïve RA patients with disease activity score 28 (DAS28)≥3.2, swollen joint count≥3, despite stable MTX, were treated with ETN+MTX for 6 months, followed by randomisation to either continue ETN+MTX or switch to ETN monotherapy for an additional 18 months. The primary endpoint was change in DAS28 from 6-month randomisation to 12 months. The non-inferiority margin of change in DAS28 was 0.6, with prespecified analyses (DAS28<3.2 vs DAS28≥3.2).
205 patients were randomised. DAS28 was stable in patients on ETN+MTX and increased slightly in patients on ETN monotherapy from 6 to 12 months. Non-inferiority was not achieved, with an adjusted difference of 0.4 (0.1 to 0.7) between the ETN and the ETN+MTX groups, for the month 6–12 change in DAS28. However, patients who achieved low disease activity (LDA; DAS28<3.2) at 6 months had a similar disease activity at 12 months, whether on monotherapy or combination therapy (DAS28 change 0.7 ETN vs 0.57 ETN+MTX, p=0.8148). Conversely, for patients who did not reach LDA at 6 months, those on ETN monotherapy had increased disease activity at 12 months, while disease activity continued to decrease for patients on combination therapy, at 12 months (DAS28 change 0.4 ETN vs −0.4 ETN+MTX, p=0.0023).
Non-inferiority was not achieved. Withdrawing MTX after 6 months of continuation ETN+MTX in MTX inadequate responders did not yield the same degree of improvement between 6 and 12 months compared with continuing ETN+MTX.
Trial Registration−NCT00654368.
PMCID: PMC4251190  PMID: 23979914
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Methotrexate; Anti-TNF; DMARDs (biologic)

Results 1-17 (17)