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1.  Minimal clinically important improvement/difference (MCII/MCID) and patient acceptable symptom state (PASS): what do these concepts mean? 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(Suppl 3):iii40-iii41.
An increasing focus has over recent years been directed to the use of categorical endpoints to define response, i.e. to define cut‐points for important improvement and/or acceptable clinical state. The levels of Minimal Clinically Important Improvement (MCII) are typically defined according to the patients perception of what is an important improvement. It can be defined as the smallest change in measurement that signifies an important improvement. MCII signifies an improvement of relevance in a clinical trial, or the minimal meaningful change at an individual level. The Minimal Clinically Important Difference (MCID) may reflect either an improvement or a worsening. Patient Acceptable Symptom State (PASS) has been defined as the highest level of symptom beyond which patients consider themselves well. Cut‐points for MCII and PASS are usually identified through two different statistical approaches. The 75th percentage approach identifies the cut‐point corresponding to the 75 percentile of the scores for improvement in patients who report an important improvement by the anchoring question. Applying receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves allows for choosing the threshold that is the best compromise between sensitivity and specificity for each outcome criterion.
The identified cut‐points for MCII and PASS may easily be incorporated as endpoints in clinical trials, and will provide information about the proportion of patients that achieve an improvement exceeding the level accepted as MCII and achieve a state accepted as PASS.
PMCID: PMC2095292  PMID: 17934093
2.  Introduction of a novel magnetic resonance imaging tenosynovitis score for rheumatoid arthritis: reliability in a multireader longitudinal study 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(9):1216-1220.
To describe a novel scoring system for the assessment of tenosynovitis by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and assess its intra‐ and inter‐reader reliability in a multireader, longitudinal setting.
Flexor and extensor tenosynovitis were evaluated at the level of the wrist in 10 different anatomical areas, graded semi‐quantitatively from grade 0 to 3 (total score 0–30), based on the maximum width of post‐contrast enhancement within each anatomical area on axial T1‐weighted MR images. Ten sets of baseline and 1‐year follow‐up MR images of the wrists of patients with rheumatoid arthritis with early and established disease were scored independently by four readers twice on 2 consecutive days. Intra‐ and inter‐reader agreements were evaluated.
The intrareader intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were high for status scores (median ICCs 0.84–0.88) and slightly lower for change score (0.74). The smallest detectable difference (SDD) in % of the maximum score was 11.2–11.5% for status scores and 13.3% for change scores. Inter‐reader single‐measure ICCs were acceptable for both status scores (median 0.73–0.74) and change scores (0.67), while average‐measures ICCs were very high for both status and change score (all ⩾0.94). The median scoring time per patient (baseline and follow‐up images) was 7 min (range 3–10).
The introduced tenosynovitis scoring system demonstrates a high degree of multireader reliability, is feasible, and may be used as an adjuvant to the existing OMERACT RAMRIS score, allowing improved quantification of inflammatory soft tissue changes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
PMCID: PMC1955157  PMID: 17392347
3.  Calprotectin (a major leucocyte protein) is strongly and independently correlated with joint inflammation and damage in rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(8):1093-1097.
Calprotectin is a major leucocyte protein, shown to correlate well with laboratory and clinical assessments in several inflammatory rheumatic diseases, and large concentrations of calprotectin have been found in synovial fluid from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The objective of the present study was to examine correlations between calprotectin and joint damage.
145 patients with RA were analysed cross sectionally with laboratory (calprotectin, C reactive protein (CRP), and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)), clinical (28 joint counts (tender, swollen), physician global VAS, DAS28 and RA Articular Damage score (RAAD)), and radiographic (plain hand radiographs; modified Sharp's method) measurements, on the same day.
Calprotectin showed a highly significant correlation with measures of joint damage; modified Sharp score r = 0.43 (p<0.001) and RAAD r = 0.40 (p<0.001). The association with modified Sharp score and RAAD score was maintained after adjustment for CRP, ESR, rheumatoid factor, DAS28, sex, and age in a multiple regression analysis (p = 0.018 and p = 0.04, respectively), while neither CRP nor ESR showed any independent associations. Highly significant correlations (p<0.001) were also found between calprotectin and both laboratory and clinical markers of inflammation.
Calprotectin was found to significantly and independently explain the variation in the radiological and clinical assessments of joint damage. Longitudinal studies are required to examine whether calprotectin may predict the progression of joint damage in RA.
PMCID: PMC1954700  PMID: 17234650
calprotectin; rheumatoid arthritis; joint inflammation; joint damage; radiographs
4.  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
5.  Associations between the PTPN22 1858C→T polymorphism and radiographic joint destruction in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: results from a 10‐year longitudinal study 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(12):1604-1609.
To investigate whether the PTPN22 1858T risk variant is associated with the rate of radiographic progression in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
A longitudinally followed cohort of 238 Norwegian patients with RA (the EURIDISS cohort) was genotyped for the PTPN22 1858C→T polymorphism. Radiographic damage was assessed by hand radiographs at baseline and after 1, 2, 5 and 10 years, and the radiographs were scored with the Sharp method modified by van der Heijde (Sharp–van der Heijde score) by a single experienced reader. Baseline serum levels of rheumatoid factor and anti‐cyclic citrullinated peptide autoantibodies were also examined.
The reported association between RA susceptibility and carriage of the T allele (34.4% in patients vs 21.4% in controls; odds ratio 1.92, 95% confidence interval 1.36 to 2.71, p = 0.0002) was confirmed. An association between annual progression rate of Sharp–van der Heijde score and T‐allele carriers (p = 0.01),was also found, which was also present when only patients positive for the shared epitope were analysed (p = 0.03). This association was also maintained in multivariate analyses adjusting for shared epitope and demographic variables.
An association between the PTPN22 risk variant and increased progression rate for structural damage was found. The results indicate that the PTPN22 gene may not only be associated with disease susceptibility, but also with disease progression.
PMCID: PMC2095332  PMID: 17472988
rheumatoid arthritis; PTPN22; longitudinal study; radiographic damage; genetic predisposition
6.  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
7.  Pain and psychological health status over a 10‐year period in patients with recent onset rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(9):1195-1201.
To examine rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with short disease duration over 10 years, and to identify factors that are associated with the course of pain, depression and anxiety.
A cohort of 238 patients with RA (age 20–70 years, mean disease duration 2.3 years, 68% rheumatoid factor positive) was followed with assessments at baseline and after 1, 2, 5 and 10 years. Self‐reported health status was assessed by pain on a 100 mm visual analogue scale, the Arthritis Impact Measurement Scales (AIMS), the 28‐item version of General Health Questionnaires, and the Health Assessment Questionnaire. We also examined the erythrocyte sedimentation ratio, grip strength (kg) and radiographic progression of the hands (van der Heijde modified Sharp score). Repeated measures analyses of variance were used to explore the effect of time on measures of outcome among completers, whereas repeated measures analyses using a mixed model were applied to identify factors that were longitudinally associated with pain, depression and anxiety.
At the various assessment points 30% had a visual analogue scale pain score of ⩾40 mm, 5–13% had an AIMS depression score of ⩾4.0 and 20–30% had an AIMS anxiety score of ⩾4.0. The perceived level of pain was explained longitudinally by anxiety, disease activity, physical function and female gender, depression by high disease activity and anxiety, whereas anxiety was explained by low disease activity and depression.
More patients had increased levels of anxiety (20–30%) than increased levels of depression (5–13%). Several factors, including anxiety, but not depression, were associated with the course of pain.
PMCID: PMC1955161  PMID: 17392351
8.  Blocking the effects of interleukin-6 in rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory rheumatic diseases: systematic literature review and meta-analysis informing a consensus statement 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(4):583-589.
Suppression of the immunoinflammatory cascade by targeting interleukin 6 (IL-6) mediated effects constitutes a therapeutic option for chronic inflammatory diseases. Tocilizumab is the only IL-6 inhibitor (IL-6i) licensed for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), but also other agents targeting either IL-6 or its receptor are investigated in various indications.
To review published evidence on safety and efficacy of IL-6i in inflammatory diseases.
We performed systematic literature searches in Medline and Cochrane, screened EULAR and American College of Rheumatology meeting-abstracts, and accessed
Comprehensive evidence supports the efficacy of tocilizumab in RA in DMARD-naïve patients, and after DMARD- and TNFi-failure. Randomised comparisons demonstrate superiority of tocilizumab in JIA, but not ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Other indications are currently investigated. Additional IL-6i show similar efficacy; safety generally appears acceptable.
IL-6i is effective and safe in RA and JIA, but not in AS. Preliminary results in other indications need substantiation.
PMCID: PMC3595140  PMID: 23144446
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis; Treatment; DMARDs (biologic)
9.  Development of EULAR recommendations for the reporting of clinical trial extension studies in rheumatology 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2014;74(6):963-969.
Our initiative aimed to produce recommendations on post-randomised controlled trial (RCT) trial extension studies (TES) reporting using European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) standard operating procedures in order to achieve more meaningful output and standardisation of reports.
We formed a task force of 22 participants comprising RCT experts, clinical epidemiologists and patient representatives. A two-stage Delphi survey was conducted to discuss the domains of evaluation of a TES and definitions. A ‘0–10’ agreement scale assessed each domain and definition. The resulting set of recommendations was further refined and a final vote taken for task force acceptance.
Seven key domains and individual components were evaluated and led to agreed recommendations including definition of a TES (100% agreement), minimal data necessary (100% agreement), method of data analysis (agreement mean (SD) scores ranging between 7.9 (0.84) and 9.0 (2.16)) and reporting of results as well as ethical issues. Key recommendations included reporting of absolute numbers at each stage from the RCT to TES with reasons given for drop-out at each stage, and inclusion of a flowchart detailing change in numbers at each stage and focus (mean (SD) agreement 9.9 (0.36)). A final vote accepted the set of recommendations.
This EULAR task force provides recommendations for implementation in future TES to ensure a standardised approach to reporting. Use of this document should provide the rheumatology community with a more accurate and meaningful output from future TES, enabling better understanding and more confident application in clinical practice towards improving patient outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4431343  PMID: 24827533
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (biologic); Epidemiology
10.  EULAR Task Force Recommendations on Annual Cardiovascular Risk Assessment for Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Audit of the Success of Implementation in a Rheumatology Outpatient Clinic 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:515280.
Objective. EULAR recommendations for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk management include annual CVD risk assessments for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We evaluated the recording of CVD risk factors (CVD-RF) in a rheumatology outpatient clinic, where EULAR recommendations had been implemented. Further, we compared CVD-RF recordings between a regular rheumatology outpatient clinic (RegROC) and a structured arthritis clinic (AC). Methods. In 2012, 1142 RA patients visited the rheumatology outpatient clinic: 612 attended RegROC and 530 attended AC. We conducted a search in the patient journals to ascertain the rate of CVD-RF recording. Results. The overall CVD-RF recording rate was 40.1% in the rheumatology outpatient clinic, reflecting a recording rate of 59.1% in the AC and 23.6% in the RegROC. The odds ratios for having CVD-RFs recorded for patients attending AC compared to RegROC were as follows: blood pressure: 12.4, lipids: 5.0-6.0, glucose: 9.1, HbA1c: 6.1, smoking: 1.4, and for having all the CVD-RFs needed to calculate the CVD risk by the systematic coronary risk evaluation (SCORE): 21.0. Conclusion. The CVD-RF recording rate was low in a rheumatology outpatient clinic. However, a systematic team-based model was superior compared to a RegROC. Further measures are warranted to improve CVD-RF recording in RA patients.
PMCID: PMC4359830  PMID: 25815322
11.  Do COX-2 inhibitors provide additional pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who are on biological disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs and/or corticosteroids? Post-hoc analyses from a randomized clinical trial with etoricoxib 
Our objective was to evaluate the effect of background biological disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) and/or corticosteroids (CS) on response to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients.
The following efficacy endpoints were evaluated using time-weighted change from baseline in a 12-week, randomized controlled clinical trial with etoricoxib: Patient Global Assessment of Pain, Swollen Joint Count, Tender Joint Count, Health Assessment Questionnaire. The following three treatment groups were evaluated: placebo, pooled etoricoxib 10/30/60 mg, and etoricoxib 90 mg. Screening values, values post flare, as well as changes after treatment were analyzed.
Of the 1014 patients screened, 761 were randomized; 50% were on no background bDMARDs and/or CS therapy, 23% used bDMARDs, 34% used CS, and 8% used both bDMARDs and CS. It was demonstrated that RA patients on bDMARDs or CS had similar pain levels at screening as patients without this co-medication. They experienced flare upon NSAID withdrawal and demonstrated dose-dependent pain improvement with etoricoxib.
These results support that RA patients receiving bDMARDs or CS may still require the use of concomitant analgesics to treat pain. Clinicians should continue to monitor and treat pain even after initiating a bDMARD and/or CS.
Trial Registration
[; NCT00264147]
PMCID: PMC4344787  PMID: 25886874
bDMARDS; Rheumatoid arthritis; Analgesics; Corticosteroids; Pain; COX-2 inhibitors
12.  The global challenges and opportunities in the practice of rheumatology: White paper by the World Forum on Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases 
Clinical Rheumatology  2014;34(5):819-829.
Rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) represent a multitude of degenerative, inflammatory and auto-immune conditions affecting millions of people worldwide. Persons with these diseases may potentially experience severe chronic pain, joint damage, increasing disability and even death. With an increasingly ageing population, the prevalence and burden of RMDs are predicted to increase, placing greater demands on the global practice of rheumatology and related healthcare budgets. Effective treatment of RMDs currently faces a number of challenges in both the developed and developing world, and individual countries may face more specific local challenges. However, limited understanding of the burden of RMDs amongst public health professionals and policy-makers means that these diseases are often not considered a public health priority. The objective of this review is to increase awareness of the RMDs and to identify opportunities to address RMD challenges on both a local and global scale. On 26 September 2014, rheumatology experts from five different continents met at the World Forum on Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases (WFRMD) to discuss and identify some key challenges for the RMDs community today. The outcomes are presented in this review, focusing on access to rheumatology services, diagnostics and therapies, rheumatology education and training and on clinical trials, as well as investigator-initiated and epidemiological research. The long-term vision of the WFRMD is to increase perception of the RMDs as a major burden to society and to explore potential opportunities to improve global and local RMD care.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10067-014-2841-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4408363  PMID: 25501633
Clinical trials; Diagnostic tests; Epidemiology; Medical education; Public health; Rheumatic diseases
13.  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
14.  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
16.  Efficacy of High Intensity Exercise on Disease Activity and Cardiovascular Risk in Active Axial Spondyloarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108688.
Physical therapy is recommended for the management of axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) and flexibility exercises have traditionally been the main focus. Cardiovascular (CV) diseases are considered as a major health concern in axSpA and there is strong evidence that endurance and strength exercise protects against CV diseases. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of high intensity endurance and strength exercise on disease activity and CV health in patients with active axSpA.
In a single blinded randomized controlled pilot study the exercise group (EG) performed 12 weeks of endurance and strength exercise while the control group (CG) received treatment as usual. The primary outcome was the Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) Disease Activity Score (ASDAS). Secondary outcomes included patient reported disease activity (Bath AS Disease Activity Index [BASDAI]), physical function (Bath AS Functional Index [BASFI]), and CV risk factors measured by arterial stiffness (Augmentation Index [Alx]) and Pulse Wave Velocity [PWV]), cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2 peak) and body composition. ANCOVA on the post intervention values with baseline values as covariates was used to assess group differences, and Mann Whitney U-test was used for outcomes with skewed residuals.
Twenty-eight patients were included and 24 (EG, n = 10, CG, n = 14) completed the study. A mean treatment effect of −0.7 (95%CI: −1.4, 0.1) was seen in ASDAS score. Treatment effects were also observed in secondary outcomes (mean group difference [95%CI]): BASDAI: −2.0 (−3.6, −0.4), BASFI: −1.4 (−2.6, −0.3), arterial stiffness (estimated median group differences [95% CI]): AIx (%): −5.3 (−11.0, −0.5), and for PVW (m/s): −0.3 (−0.7, 0.0), VO2 peak (ml/kg/min) (mean group difference [95%CI]: 3.7 (2.1, 5.2) and trunk fat (%): −1.8 (−3.0, −0.6). No adverse events occurred.
High intensity exercise improved disease activity and reduced CV risk factors in patients with active axSpA. These effects will be further explored in a larger trial.
Trial Registration NCT01436942
PMCID: PMC4182541  PMID: 25268365
17.  The performance of matrix-based risk models for rapid radiographic progression in BRASS, a cohort of patients with established rheumatoid arthritis 
Arthritis care & research  2013;65(4):526-533.
Matrix-based risk models have been proposed as a tool to predict rapid radiographic progression (RRP) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but the experience with such models is limited. We tested the performance of three risk models for RRP in an observational cohort
Subjects from an observational RA cohort with hand radiographs and necessary predictor variables to be classified by the risk models were identified (n=478). RRP was defined as a yearly change in van der Heijde-Sharp score of ≥ 5 units. Patients were placed in the appropriate matrix categories, with a corresponding predicted risk of RRP. The mean predicted probability for cases and non-cases, integrated discrimination improvement, Hosmer-Lemeshow statistics and the c-statistics were calculated.
The median (IQR) age was 59 (50, 66) years, disease duration 12 (4, 23) years and swollen joint count 6 (2, 13), 84% were female and 86% had erosions at baseline. Twelve percent (32/271) of patients treated with synthetic DMARDs at baseline and 10% (21/207) of patients treated with biologic DMARDs experienced RRP. Most of the predictor variables had a skewed distribution in the population. All models had a suboptimal performance when applied to the BRASS cohort, with c-statistics of 0.59 (model A), 0.65 (model B) and 0.57 (model C) and Hosmer-Lemeshow chi-square p-values of 0.06 (model A), 0.005 (model B) and 0.05 (model C).
Matrix risk models developed in clinical trials of patients with early RA had limited ability to predict RRP in this observational cohort of RA patients.
PMCID: PMC3594116  PMID: 23044765
18.  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
19.  Prevalence, incidence and progression of hand osteoarthritis in the general population: the Framingham Osteoarthritis Study 
Annals of the rheumatic diseases  2011;70(9):10.1136/ard.2011.150078.
To describe the prevalence and longitudinal course of radiographic, erosive and symptomatic hand osteoarthritis (HOA) in the general population.
Framingham osteoarthritis (OA) study participants obtained bilateral hand radiographs at baseline and 9-year follow-up. The authors defined radiographic HOA at joint level as Kellgren–Lawrence grade (KLG)≥2, erosive HOA as KLG≥2 plus erosion and symptomatic HOA as KLG≥2 plus pain/aching/stiffness. Presence of HOA at individual level was defined as ≥1 affected joint. The prevalence was age-standardised (US 2000 Population 40–84 years).
Mean (SD) baseline age was 58.9 (9.9) years (56.5% women). The age-standardised prevalence of HOA was only modestly higher in women (44.2%) than men (37.7%), whereas the age-standardised prevalence of erosive and symptomatic OA was much higher in women (9.9% vs 3.3%, and 15.9% vs 8.2%). The crude incidence of HOA over 9-year follow-up was similar in women (34.6%) and men (33.7%), whereas the majority of those women (96.4%) and men (91.4%) with HOA at baseline showed progression during follow-up. Incident metacarpophalangeal and wrist OA were rare, but occurred more frequently and from an earlier age in men than women. Development of erosive disease occurred mainly in those with non-erosive HOA at baseline (as opposed to those without HOA), and was more frequent in women (17.3%) than men (9.6%).
The usual female predominance of prevalent and incident HOA was less clear for radiographic HOA than for symptomatic and erosive HOA. With an ageing population, the impact of HOA will further increase.
PMCID: PMC3867970  PMID: 21622766
20.  Hand, hip and knee osteoarthritis in a Norwegian population-based study - The MUST protocol 
Knowledge about the prevalence and consequences of osteoarthritis (OA) in the Norwegian population is limited. This study has been designed to gain a greater understanding of musculoskeletal pain in the general population with a focus on clinically and radiologically confirmed OA, as well as risk factors, consequences, and management of OA.
The Musculoskeletal pain in Ullensaker STudy (MUST) has been designed as an observational study comprising a population-based postal survey and a comprehensive clinical examination of a sub-sample with self-reported OA (MUST OA cohort). All inhabitants in Ullensaker municipality, Norway, aged 40 to 79 years receive the initial population-based postal survey questionnaire with questions about life style, general health, musculoskeletal pain, self-reported OA, comorbidities, health care utilisation, medication use, and functional ability. Participants who self-report OA in their hip, knee and/or hand joints are asked to attend a comprehensive clinical examination at Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Oslo, including a comprehensive medical examination, performance-based functional tests, different imaging modalities, cardiovascular assessment, blood and urine samples, and a number of patient-reported questionnaires including five OA disease specific instruments. Data will be merged with six national data registries. A subsample of those who receive the questionnaire has previously participated in postal surveys conducted in 1990, 1994, and 2004 with data on musculoskeletal pain and functional ability in addition to demographic characteristics and a number of health related factors. This subsample constitutes a population based cohort with 20 years follow-up.
This protocol describes the design of an observational population-based study that will involve the collection of data from a postal survey on musculoskeletal pain, and a comprehensive clinical examination on those with self-reported hand, hip and/or knee OA. These data, in addition to data from national registries, will provide unique insights into clinically and radiologically confirmed OA with respect to risk factors, consequences, and management.
PMCID: PMC3704709  PMID: 23826721
Osteoarthritis; Hand; Hip; Knee; Observational study; Study protocol
21.  Effect of 1-year anti-TNF-α therapy on aortic stiffness, carotid atherosclerosis, and calprotectin in inflammatory arthropathies: a controlled study 
American Journal of Hypertension  2012;25(6):644-650.
Premature arterial stiffening and atherosclerosis are increased in patients with inflammatory arthropathies such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA). The proinflammatory protein calprotectin is associated with inflammatory arthropathies, vascular pathology, and acute coronary events. We examined the long-term effects of treatment with tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α antagonists on aortic stiffness and carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) in patients with inflammatory arthropathies, and the relationships to the levels of calprotectin.
Fifty-five patients with RA, AS, or PsA and a clinical indication for anti-TNF-α therapy were included and followed with regular examinations for 1 year. Thirty-six patients starting with anti-TNF-α therapy were compared with a nontreatment group of 19 patients. Examinations included assessments of aortic stiffness (aortic pulse wave velocity, aPWV), CIMT, and plasma calprotectin.
After 1 year, aPWV (mean (s.d.)) was improved in the treatment group, but not in the control group (−0.54 [0.79] m/s vs. 0.06 [0.61] m/s, respectively; P = 0.004), and CIMT progression (median (quartile cut-points, 25th and 75th percentiles)) was reduced in the treatment group compared to the control group (−0.002 [–0.038, 0.030] mm vs. 0.030 [0.011, 0.043] mm, respectively; P = 0.01). In multivariable analyses, anti-TNF-α therapy over time was associated with improved aPWV (P = 0.02) and reduced CIMT progression (P = 0.04), and calprotectin was longitudinally associated with aPWV (P = 0.02).
Long-term anti-TNF-α therapy improved aortic stiffness and CIMT progression in patients with inflammatory arthropathies. Calprotectin may be a soluble biomarker reflecting aortic stiffening in these patients.
PMCID: PMC3635528  PMID: 22378036
anti-TNF-α; arterial stiffness; blood pressure; carotid intima media thickness; hypertension; rheumatoid arthritis
22.  Associations between APOE Genotypes and Disease Susceptibility, Joint Damage and Lipid Levels in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60970.
Apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotypes are associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and lipid levels. In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an association has been found with disease activity. We examined the associations between APOE genotypes and disease susceptibility and markers of disease severity in RA, including radiographic joint damage, inflammatory markers, lipid levels and cardiovascular markers.
A Norwegian cohort of 945 RA patients and 988 controls were genotyped for two APOE polymorphisms. We examined longitudinal associations between APOE genotypes and C-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) as well as hand radiographs (van der Heijde Sharp Score(SHS)) in 207 patients with 10 year longitudinal data. Lipid levels, cardiovascular markers and history of CVD were compared across genotypes in a cross sectional study of 136 patients. Longitudinal radiological data of cohorts from Lund and Leiden were available for replication. (N = 935, with 4799 radiographs).
In the Norwegian cohort, associations between APOE genotypes and total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) were observed (ε2<ε3/ε3<ε4, p = 0.03 and p = 0.02, respectively). No association was present for acute phase reactant or CVD markers, but a longitudinal linear association between APOE genotypes and radiographic joint damage was observed (p = 0.007). No association between APOE genotypes and the severity of joint destruction was observed in the Lund and Leiden cohorts, and a meta- analysis combining all data was negative.
APOE genotypes are associated with lipid levels in patients with RA, and may contribute to dyslipidemia in some patients. APOE genotypes are not consistently associated with markers of inflammation or joint destruction in RA.
PMCID: PMC3629235  PMID: 23613766
23.  Interaction Analysis between HLA-DRB1 Shared Epitope Alleles and MHC Class II Transactivator CIITA Gene with Regard to Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32861.
HLA-DRB1 shared epitope (SE) alleles are the strongest genetic determinants for autoantibody positive rheumatoid arthritis (RA). One of the key regulators in expression of HLA class II receptors is MHC class II transactivator (CIITA). A variant of the CIITA gene has been found to associate with inflammatory diseases.
We wanted to explore whether the risk variant rs3087456 in the CIITA gene interacts with the HLA-DRB1 SE alleles regarding the risk of developing RA. We tested this hypothesis in a case-control study with 11767 individuals from four European Caucasian populations (6649 RA cases and 5118 controls).
We found no significant additive interaction for risk alleles among Swedish Caucasians with RA (n = 3869, attributable proportion due to interaction (AP) = 0.2, 95%CI: −0.2–0.5) or when stratifying for anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA) presence (ACPA positive disease: n = 2945, AP = 0.3, 95%CI: −0.05–0.6, ACPA negative: n = 2268, AP = −0.2, 95%CI: −1.0–0.6). We further found no significant interaction between the main subgroups of SE alleles (DRB1*01, DRB1*04 or DRB1*10) and CIITA. Similar analysis of three independent RA cohorts from British, Dutch and Norwegian populations also indicated an absence of significant interaction between genetic variants in CIITA and SE alleles with regard to RA risk.
Our data suggest that risk from the CIITA locus is independent of the major risk for RA from HLA-DRB1 SE alleles, given that no significant interaction between rs3087456 and SE alleles was observed. Since a biological link between products of these genes is evident, the genetic contribution from CIITA and class II antigens in the autoimmune process may involve additional unidentified factors.
PMCID: PMC3312880  PMID: 22461888
24.  The soluble biomarker calprotectin (a S100 protein) is associated to ultrasonographic synovitis scores and is sensitive to change in patients with rheumatoid arthritis treated with adalimumab 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2011;13(5):R178.
Calprotectin (MRP8/MRP14, S100A8/A9) is associated with disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Ultrasonography (US) is a reliable method for evaluation of synovitis (B-mode (BM) and power Doppler (PD)). The present objectives were to explore in RA patients the associations between calprotectin and a comprehensive US examination, as well as the responsiveness of calprotectin compared to other inflammatory markers during anti-TNF treatment.
A total of 20 RA patients starting treatment with adalimumab were examined longitudinally by US (BM and PD (semi-quantitative scores 0 to 3) of 78 joints, 36 tendons/tendon groups and 2 bursae) and clinically at baseline and after 1, 3, 6 and 12 months. Associations between the US sum scores and the inflammatory markers calprotectin, serum amyloid A (SAA), CRP and ESR were explored by correlation and linear regression analyses, and the response to treatment was assessed by Standardized Response Mean (SRM).
The inflammatory markers, clinical examinations and US sum scores improved during treatment (P < 0.001). Of the inflammatory markers, calprotectin had the highest correlation coefficients with the total BM and PD sum scores (median (range) 0.59 (0.37 to 0.76) for BM and 0.56 (0.38 to 0.72) for PD). Even higher correlations were found between calprotectin and sum US scores of reduced number of joint counts. Calprotectin made a considerable contribution to total US sum scores in the linear regression analyses (P = 0.001 to 0.031) and among the inflammatory markers, calprotectin had the highest SRM (0.84 at one month).
Calprotectin was associated with the sum scores from a comprehensive US assessment and was responsive to change during anti-TNF treatment. Thus, examination of this leukocyte protein could be of additional value in the assessment of RA patients on biologic treatment.
PMCID: PMC3308113  PMID: 22029973
Calprotectin; acute phase proteins; rheumatoid arthritis; ultrasonography; anti-TNF treatment
25.  Comparisons of 7- to 78-joint ultrasonography scores: all different joint combinations show equal response to adalimumab treatment in patients with rheumatoid arthritis 
The primary objectives were to explore the associations between a comprehensive ultrasonographic (US) assessment of joints, tendons and bursae and previously described reduced joint counts (7-, 12-, 28- and 44-joint score) as well as to assess the sensitivity to change of these different US joint combinations during biological treatment.
Twenty patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were examined by US (B-mode (BM) and power Doppler (PD)) with use of a semi-quantitative (0 to 3) score of 78 joints, 36 tendons/tendon groups and two bursae (hereafter described as the 78-joint score) at baseline and 1, 3, 6 and 12 months after initiating treatment with adalimumab. BM and PD scores for the different joint combinations were generated.
The reduced joint scores had high correlation coefficients with the 78-joint score at all examinations (range 0.79 to 0.99 for BM and 0.77 to 0.99 for PD, each P < 0.001) and sum BM and PD scores of all the different joint combinations improved significantly during follow-up (P ≤ 0.05 to 0.001).
The reduced joint combinations were highly associated to the 78-joint score. Furthermore, all the joint combinations presently explored responded well to biological treatment. This indicates that an approach focusing on few joints and tendons gives equivalent information about the inflammatory activity in RA patients as a comprehensive US examination. The optimal combination of joints and tendons for a valid, reliable and feasible US measurement should be further explored to define a US score for follow-up of RA patients on biological treatment.
PMCID: PMC3218888  PMID: 21619619

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