In a study in a recent issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy, Yoshimoto and colleagues demonstrate that peripheral monocytes from patients with Sjögren's syndrome (SS) produce significantly higher amounts of B cell-activating factor (BAFF) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in comparison with normal monocytes. This difference exists at baseline and is amplified after stimulation with interferon-gamma. Increased IL-6 secretion is partially suppressed by an anti-BAFF antibody, suggesting that signal transduction pathways mediated by BAFF are implicated in the regulation of IL-6 production by monocytes. The origin and pathways involved in this higher susceptibility to BAFF-driven IL-6 induction by monocytes of patients with SS are still unknown.
Interferon (IFN) regulatory factor 5 (IRF-5) is a transcription factor involved in the regulation of host defense. Previous reports have demonstrated a significant association of various IRF-5 polymorphisms with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), among Caucasians. This case-control study aimed to investigate whether IRF-5 polymorphisms were involved in the genetic predisposition to primary Sjögren Syndrome (pSS), an autoimmune disease closely related to SLE.
We analyzed IRF-5 rs2004640, rs2070197, rs10954213, and rs2280714 polymorphisms in a cohort of 212 pSS patients and 162 controls, all of Caucasian origin. The four studied polymorphisms were genotyped by competitive allele specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using FRET technology.
The IRF-5 rs2004640 GT or TT genotypes (T allele carriers) were found among 87% of pSS patients compared with 77% in controls (P=0.01; OR1.93, 95%IC [1.15–3.42]). Likewise, IRF-5 rs2004640 T allele was found on 59% of chromosomes in pSS patients compared with 52% in controls (P=0.04; OR 1.36, 95% CI [1.01–1.83]). No significant association was evidenced with rs2070197, rs10954213, and rs2280714 when analyzed independently. Nevertheless, haplotype reconstructions based on the four studied polymorphisms suggest that various allele combinations of rs2004640 and rs2070197 could define susceptibility or protective haplotypes.
We demonstrated for the first time a significant association of IRF-5 rs2004640 T allele with pSS. These results, which require further replication on larger sample sized populations suggest that, beside association with identical major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene polymorphisms, pSS and SLE also share IRF-5 polymorphism as a common genetic susceptibility factor.
Alleles; Case-Control Studies; Genetic Predisposition to Disease; genetics; Genotype; Haplotypes; Humans; Interferon Regulatory Factors; genetics; Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic; genetics; Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide; genetics; Sjogren's Syndrome; genetics; IRF-5; Sjögren's syndrome; genetic polymorphism; haplotype
Since initial approval for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), rituximab has been evaluated in clinical trials involving various populations with RA. Information has also been gathered from registries. This report therefore updates the 2007 consensus document on the use of rituximab in the treatment of RA.
Preparation of this new document involved many international experts experienced in the treatment of RA. Following a meeting to agree upon the core agenda, a systematic literature review was undertaken to identify all relevant data. Data were then interrogated by a drafting committee, with subsequent review and discussion by a wider expert committee leading to the formulation of an updated consensus statement. These committees also included patients with RA.
The new statement covers wide-ranging issues including the use of rituximab in earlier RA and impact on structural progression, and aspects particularly pertinent to rituximab such as co-medication, optimal dosage regimens, repeat treatment cycles and how to manage non-response. Biological therapy following rituximab usage is also addressed, and safety concerns including appropriate screening for hepatitis, immunoglobulin levels and infection risk. This consensus statement will support clinicians and inform patients when using B-cell depletion in the management of RA, providing up-to-date information and highlighting areas for further research.
New therapeutic strategies and treatment options for RA, a chronic destructive and disabling disease, have expanded over recent years. These have been summarised in general strategic suggestions and specific management recommendations, emphasising the importance of expedient disease-modifying antirheumatic drug implementation and tight disease control. This consensus statement is in line with these fundamental principles of management.
Sjögren syndrome; tumour necrosis factor receptor 2; association
Latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) is detected with the tuberculin skin test (TST) before anti‐TNF therapy. We aimed to investigate in vitro blood assays with TB‐specific antigens (CFP‐10, ESAT‐6), in immune‐mediated inflammatory diseases (IMID) for LTBI screening.
Patients and methods
Sixty‐eight IMID patients with (n = 35) or without (n = 33) LTBI according to clinico‐radiographic findings or TST results (10 mm cutoff value) underwent cell proliferation assessed by thymidine incorporation and PKH‐26 dilution assays, and IFNγ‐release enzyme‐linked immunosorbent spot (ELISPOT) assays with TB‐specific antigens.
In vitro blood assays gave higher positive results in patients with LTBI than without (p<0.05), with some variations between tests. Among the 13 patients with LTBI diagnosed independently of TST results, 5 had a negative TST (38.5%) and only 2 a negative blood assays result (15.4%). The 5 LTBI patients with negative TST results all had positive blood assays results. Ten patients without LTBI but with intermediate TST results (6–10 mm) had no different result than patients with TST result ⩽5 mm (p>0.3) and lower results than those with LTBI (p<0.05) on CFP‐10+ESAT‐6 ELISPOT and CFP‐10 proliferation assays.
Anti‐TB blood assays are beneficial for LTBI diagnosis in IMID. Compared with TST, they show a better sensitivity, as seen by positive results in 5 patients with certain LTBI and negative TST, and better specificity, as seen by negative results in most patients with intermediate TST as the only criteria of LTBI. In the absence of clinico‐radiographic findings for LTBI, blood assays could replace TST for antibiotherapy decision before anti‐TNF.
To develop a disease activity index for patients with primary Sjögren’s syndrome (SS): the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Sjögren’s Syndrome Disease Activity Index (ESSDAI).
Thirty-nine SS experts participated in an international collaboration, promoted by EULAR, to develop the ESSDAI. Experts identified 12 organ-specific “domains” contributing to disease activity. For each domain, features of disease activity were classified in 3 or 4 levels according to their severity. Data abstracted from 96 patients with systemic complications of primary SS were used to generate 702 realistic vignettes for which all possible systemic complications were represented. Using the 0–10 physician global assessment (PhGA) scale, each expert scored the disease activity of 5 patient profiles and 20 realistic vignettes. Multiple regression modelling, with PhGA used as the dependent variable, was used to estimate the weight of each domain.
All 12 domains were significantly associated with disease activity in the multivariate model, domain weights ranged from 1 to 6. The ESSDAI scores varied from 2 to 47 and were significantly correlated with PhGA for both real patient profiles and realistic vignettes (r=0.61 and r=0.58, respectively, p<0.0001). Compared to 57 (59.4%) of the real patient profiles, 468 (66.7%) of the realistic vignettes were considered likely or very likely to be true.
The ESSDAI is a clinical index designed to measure disease activity in patients with primary SS. Once validated, such a standardized evaluation of primary SS should facilitate clinical research and should be helpful as an outcome measure in clinical trials.
primary Sjogren's syndrome; outcome assessment; systemic features; activity index; clinical vignettes; disease activity
To describe cases of lymphoma associated with anti-TNF therapy, identify risk factors, estimate the incidence and compare risks for different anti-TNF agents.
We designed a national prospective registry (RATIO) from 2004 to 2006, for collecting all cases of lymphoma in French patients receiving anti-TNF therapy, whatever the indication. We conducted a case-control analysis including two controls treated with anti-TNF per case and an incidence study of lymphoma with the French population used as reference..
We collected 38 cases of lymphoma, 31 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) (26 B-cell and 5 T-cell), 5 Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL) and 2 Hodgkin’s-like lymphoma. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) was detected in 2 of 2 Hodgkin’s-like lymphoma, 3 of 5 HL and one NHL. Patients receiving adalimumab or infliximab had a higher risk than those treated with etanercept: SIR = 4.1 (2.3–7.1) and 3.6 (2.3–5.6) versus 0.9 (0.4– 1.8). The exposure to adalimumab or infliximab versus etanercept was an independent risk factor for lymphoma in the case-control study: odds ratio=4.7 (1.3– 17.7) and 4.1 (1.4–12.5), respectively. The sex and age- adjusted incidence rate of lymphoma was 42.1 per 100,000 patient-years. The standardized incidence ratio (SIR) was 2.4 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.7–3.2).
Some lymphomas associated with immunosuppression may occur in patients receiving anti TNF therapy, and the risk of lymphoma is higher with monoclonal-antibody therapy than with soluble-receptor therapy.
Aged; Antirheumatic Agents; adverse effects; therapeutic use; Arthritis; drug therapy; Epidemiologic Methods; Female; France; epidemiology; Humans; Immunocompromised Host; Immunosuppressive Agents; adverse effects; therapeutic use; Lymphoma; chemically induced; epidemiology; immunology; Male; Middle Aged; Registries; Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha; antagonists & inhibitors; Anti-TNF; Lymphoma; Safety; Rheumatoid arthritis; Spondylarthropathies
Tuberculosis (TB) is associated with anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF) therapy but whether it is drug-specific remains a concern. Our objective was to describe cases of tuberculosis associated with anti-TNF therapy, identify risk factors and estimate the incidence.
An incidence study with the French population as reference and a case-control analysis. We collected, for 3 years, cases of TB among French patients receiving anti-TNF therapy, whatever the indication, with two controls treated with anti-TNF agents per case.
We collected 69 cases of TB in patients treated for rheumatoid arthritis (n=40), spondylarthropathies (n=18), inflammatory colitis (n=9), psoriasis (n=1) and Behçet’s disease (n=1) treated with infliximab (n=36), adalimumab (n=28) and etanercept (n=5). None of the cases had received correct chemoprophylaxis treatment. The sex and age-adjusted incidence rate of TB was 116.7 per 100,000 patient-years. The SIR was 12.2 (95% confidence interval 9.7–15.5) and was higher for therapy with infliximab and adalimumab than for that with etanercept: 18.6 (13.4–25.8) and 29.3 (20.2–42.4) versus 1.8 (0.7–4.3), respectively. In the case-control analysis, the exposure to infliximab or adalimumab versus etanercept was an independent risk factor for TB: odds ratio=13.3 (2.6–69.0) and 17.1 (3.6–80.6), respectively. Other risk factors were age, the first year of anti-TNF treatment, and being born in an endemic area.
The risk of TB is higher for patients receiving monoclonal-antibody than soluble-receptor anti-TNF therapy. The increased risk with early anti-TNF treatment and the absence of correct chemoprophylaxis treatment favours the reactivation of latent TB.
Adult; Aged; Antibodies, Monoclonal; adverse effects; therapeutic use; Arthritis, Rheumatoid; drug therapy; Behcet Syndrome; drug therapy; Case-Control Studies; Colitis; drug therapy; Female; France; Humans; Immunoglobulin G; adverse effects; therapeutic use; Male; Middle Aged; Prospective Studies; Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor; therapeutic use; Registries; Risk Factors; Spondylarthritis; drug therapy; Treatment Outcome; Tuberculosis; chemically induced; drug therapy; epidemiology; Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha; immunology; anti-TNF-alpha; tuberculosis; safety; rheumatoid arthritis; inflammatory chronic diseases
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.
To evaluate the safety and effectiveness of adalimumab alone or in combination with standard disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Patients with active RA despite treatment with DMARDs or prior treatment with a tumour necrosis factor antagonist participated in a multicentre, open‐label clinical study of adalimumab 40 mg every other week for 12 weeks with an optional extension phase. Patients were allowed to continue with pre‐existing traditional DMARDs. Long‐term safety results are reported for all patients (4210 patient‐years (PYs) of adalimumab exposure). The observed effectiveness results at week 12 are reported using American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria.
Among the 6610 treated patients, adalimumab was generally well tolerated. Serious infections occurred in 3.1% of patients (5.5/100 PYs, including active tuberculosis, 0.5/100 PYs). Demyelinating disease (0.06%) and systemic lupus erythematosus (0.03%) were rare serious adverse events. The standardised incidence ratio of malignancy was 0.71 (95% CI 0.49 to 1.01). The standardised mortality ratio was 1.07 (95% CI 0.75 to 1.49). At week 12, 69% of patients achieved an ACR20 response, 83% a moderate, and 33% a good EULAR response. Adalimumab was effective in combination with a variety of DMARDs. The addition of adalimumab to antimalarials was comparably effective to the combination of adalimumab and methotrexate.
Considering the limitations of an open‐label study, adalimumab alone or in combination with standard DMARDs appeared to be well tolerated and effective in 6610 difficult‐to‐treat patients with active RA treated in clinical practice.
adalimumab; rheumatoid arthritis; tumour necrosis factor; monoclonal antibody; antirheumatic agents
The cytokine B cell‐activating factor of the TNF family (BAFF) is involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases.
To access changes in serum protein and mRNA levels of BAFF after rituximab treatment.
Serum and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were isolated from five patients (two with lupus, two with Sjögren's syndrome, one with rheumatoid arthritis) before and 12 weeks (range 7–17) after a first course of rituximab infusion. Monocytes and B cells were selected from healthy controls and cocultured for 72 h. BAFF protein and mRNA levels were assessed by ELISA and real‐time PCR, respectively.
After rituximab treatment, median serum BAFF protein level and BAFF to actin mRNA ratio in PBMCs significantly increased. In monocytes cocultured with autologous B cells, BAFF protein level decreased, whereas the mRNA level was stable. In one closely monitored patient, the mRNA ratio of BAFF to actin in PBMCs increased later than the BAFF serum level.
Two distinct mechanisms are probably involved in the increase in BAFF level after B cell depletion: (1) the decrease in its receptors leading to a release of BAFF; (2) a delayed regulation of BAFF mRNA transcription. This could favour the re‐emergence of autoreactive B cells.
Cell stimulation leads to the shedding of phosphatidylserine (PS)-rich microparticles (MPs). Because autoimmune diseases (AIDs) are characterized by cell activation, we investigated level of circulating MPs as a possible biomarker in primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
We measured plasma levels of total, platelet and leukocyte MPs by prothrombinase capture assay and flow cytometry in 43 patients with pSS, 20 with SLE and 24 with RA and in 44 healthy controls (HCs). Secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2) activity was assessed by fluorometry. Soluble CD40 ligand (sCD40L) and soluble P-selectin (sCD62P), reflecting platelet activation, were measured by ELISA.
Patients with pSS showed increased plasma level of total MPs (mean ± SEM 8.49 ± 1.14 nM PS equivalent (Eq), P < 0.0001), as did patients with RA (7.23 ± 1.05 n PS Eq, P = 0.004) and SLE (7.3 ± 1.25 nM PS Eq, P = 0.0004), as compared with HCs (4.13 ± 0.2 nM PS Eq). Patients with AIDs all showed increased level of platelet MPs (P < 0.0001), but only those with pSS showed increased level of leukocyte MPs (P < 0.0001). Results by capture assay and flow cytometry were correlated. In patients with high disease activity according to extra-glandular complications (pSS), DAS28 (RA) or SLEDAI (SLE) compared with low-activity patients, the MP level was only slightly increased in comparison with those having a low disease activity. Platelet MP level was inversely correlated with anti-DNA antibody level in SLE (r = -0.65; P = 0.003) and serum β2 microglobulin level in pSS (r = -0.37; P < 0.03). The levels of total and platelet MPs were inversely correlated with sPLA2 activity (r = -0.37, P = 0.0007; r = -0.36, P = 0.002, respectively). sCD40L and sCD62P concentrations were significantly higher in pSS than in HC (P ≤ 0.006).
Plasma MP level is elevated in pSS, as well as in SLE and RA, and could be used as a biomarker reflecting systemic cell activation. Level of leukocyte-derived MPs is increased in pSS only. The MP level is low in case of more severe AID, probably because of high secretory phospholipase A2 (sPLA2) activity, which leads to consumption of MPs. Increase of platelet-derived MPs, sCD40L and sCD62P, highlights platelet activation in pSS.
To determine whether tumor necrosis factor (TNF) gene polymorphisms and/or the shared epitope are genetic predictors of response to adalimumab (ADA) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
This ancillary study to the Research in Active Rheumatoid Arthritis (ReAct) Phase IIIb study included a large cohort of Caucasian patients with RA from France (N=380) treated with ADA plus methotrexate (MTX) (n=182), ADA plus any other DMARD (N=96) or ADA alone (N=102). The primary outcome was ACR50 at 12 weeks. Patients underwent genotyping for HLA-DRB1 and 3 TNFα gene polymorphisms (-238A/G, -308A/G and -857C/T). Extended haplotypes involving HLA-DRB1 and TNFα loci were reconstructed by use of the PHASE program.
A total of 152 patients (40%) had an ACR50 response at week 12. Neither the number of HLA-DRB1 SE copies nor presence of the 3 TNFα polymorphisms tested separately was significantly associated with ACR50 response at week 12. However, haplotype reconstruction of the TNFα locus revealed the GGC haplotype (-238G/-308G/–857C) in a homozygous form, present in more than half of the patients, significantly associated with a lower ACR50 response at 12 weeks (34% vs. 50% in patients without the haplotype) on treatment with ADA concomitant with MTX (P=0.0041; Pc=0.02). This effect was restricted to the subgroup of patients concomitantly treated with MTX.
This large pharmacogenetic study provides robust data indicating that a single TNFα locus haplotype (-238G/-308G/-857C), present on both chromosomes is associated with a lower response to ADA and MTX therapy in RA patients homozygous for this haplotype.
Adult; Aged; Antibodies, Monoclonal; therapeutic use; Antirheumatic Agents; therapeutic use; Arthritis, Rheumatoid; drug therapy; genetics; Drug Therapy, Combination; Female; Genotype; HLA-DR Antigens; genetics; Haplotypes; Humans; Male; Methotrexate; therapeutic use; Middle Aged; Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide; Treatment Outcome; Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha; genetics; TNF-alpha; adalimumab; rheumatoid arthritis; genetic polymorphism; haplotype
Clinical vignettes have been used widely to compare quality of clinical care and to assess variation in practice, but the effect of different response formats has not been extensively evaluated. Our objective was to compare three clinical vignette-based survey response formats – open-ended questionnaire (A), closed-ended (multiple-choice) questionnaire with deceptive response items mixed with correct items (B), and closed-ended questionnaire with only correct items (C) – in rheumatologists' pre-treatment assessment for tumor-necrosis-factor (TNF) blocker therapy.
Study design: Prospective randomized study. Setting: Rheumatologists attending the 2004 French Society of Rheumatology meeting. Physicians were given a vignette describing the history of a fictitious woman with active rheumatoid arthritis, who was a candidate for therapy with TNF blocking agents, and then were randomized to receive questionnaire A, B, or C, each containing the same four questions but with different response formats, that asked about their pretreatment assessment. Measurements: Long (recommended items) and short (mandatory items) checklists were developed for pretreatment assessment for TNF-blocker therapy, and scores were expressed on the basis of responses to questionnaires A, B, and C as the percentage of respondents correctly choosing explicit items on these checklists. Statistical analysis: Comparison of the selected items using pairwise Chi-square tests with Bonferonni correction for variables with statistically significant differences.
Data for all surveys distributed (114 As, 118 Bs, and 118 Cs) were complete and available for analysis. The percentage of questionnaire A, B, and C respondents for whom data was correctly complete for the short checklist was 50.4%, 84.0% and 95.0%, respectively, and was 0%, 5.0% and 5.9%, respectively, for the long version. As an example, 65.8%, 85.7% and 95.8% of the respondents of A, B, and C questionnaires, respectively, correctly identified the need for tuberculin skin test (p < 0.0001).
In evaluating clinical practice with use of a clinical vignette, a multiple-choice format rather than an open-ended format overestimates physician performance. The insertion of deceptive response items mixed with correct items in closed-ended (multiple-choice) questionnaire failed to avoid this overestimation.
Little is known about systemic B-cell activation in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We therefore evaluated the serum levels of markers of B-cell activation in patients included in the ESPOIR early arthritis cohort.
In the ESPOIR early arthritis cohort (at least 2 swollen joints for more than 6 weeks but less than 6 months), 710 patients were assessed at 1 year and either met the 1987 American College of Rheumatology criteria for RA (n = 578) or had undifferentiated arthritis (n = 132). Baseline serum samples of patients naïve to corticosteroid and disease-modifying antirheumatic drug treatment were assessed for beta2-microglobulin, IgG, IgA, IgM, immunoglobulin free light chains of immunoglobulins, and B-cell activating factor of the tumor necrosis factor family (BAFF). The BAFF gene 871T>C polymorphism was genotyped in all patients.
All markers of B-cell activation except BAFF and IgM were significantly higher in patients with early RA than those with undifferentiated arthritis. Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) and beta2-microglobulin were associated with a diagnosis of early RA in the multivariate analysis. Markers of B-cell activation, except BAFF, were associated with disease activity, rheumatoid factor and anti-CCP secretion. The BAFF gene polymorphism was not associated with early RA.
Markers of B-cell activation are elevated in patients with early RA, compared with undifferentiated arthritis, independently of any systemic increase in BAFF secretion, and correlate with disease activity. This study sheds new light on the early pathogenic role of B-lymphocytes in RA and suggests that targeting them might be a useful therapeutic strategy in early RA.
Since current treatment options for patients suffering from active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) remain inadequate, especially for those unresponsive to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), new and improved medication is needed. This study evaluates the safety and efficacy of masitinib (AB1010), a potent and selective protein tyrosine kinase inhibitor of c-KIT, in the monotherapy treatment of DMARD-refractory RA.
This was a multicentre, uncontrolled, open-label, randomised, dose-ranging, phase 2a trial. Masitinib was administered orally to 43 patients who had inadequate response to DMARDs, at initial randomised dosing levels of 3 and 6 mg/kg per day over a 12-week period. Dose adjustment was permitted based upon tolerability and response criteria. Efficacy was assessed via American College of Rheumatology 20%/50%/70% improvement criteria (ACR20/50/70) responses, disease activity score using 28 joint counts (DAS28), index of improvement in RA (ACRn) and C-reactive protein (CRP) improvement, relative to baseline at week 12.
Improvement was observed in all efficacy endpoints, including ACR20/50/70 scores of 54%, 26% and 8%, respectively, and a reduction in CRP level by greater than 50% for approximately half the population. This improvement was sustainable throughout an extension phase (> 84 weeks) and was also independent of initial DMARD resistance (anti-tumour necrosis factor-alpha and/or methotrexate). A relatively high patient withdrawal rate (37%) required the use of last observation carried forward (LOCF) data imputation. Incidence of adverse events was high (95%), although the majority were of mild or moderate severity with a considerable decline in frequency observed after 12 weeks of treatment. Two nonfatal serious adverse events were reported. Dose-response analyses tentatively indicate that an initial dosing level of 6.0 mg/kg per day administered orally in two daily intakes is the most appropriate, based upon potency and tolerability trends.
Treatment with masitinib improved DMARD-refractory active RA. Following an initial high incidence of mostly mild to moderate side effects during the first 12 weeks of treatment, masitinib appears to be generally well tolerated. This, together with evidence of a sustainable efficacy response, suggests that masitinib is suitable for long-term treatment regimens. Since this was the first study of masitinib in a nononcologic pathology, the relatively high patient withdrawal rate observed can be partly attributed to a highly cautious response to adverse events. There is sufficient compelling evidence to warrant further placebo-controlled investigation.
There is a suspicion of increased risk of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated lymphoproliferations in patients with inflammatory arthritides receiving immunosuppressive drugs. We investigated the EBV load and EBV-specific T-cell response in patients treated with methotrexate (MTX) or anti-TNF therapy.
Data for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (n = 58) or spondylarthropathy (SpA) (n = 28) were analyzed at baseline in comparison with controls (n = 22) and after 3 months of MTX or anti-TNF therapy for EBV load and EBV-specific IFNγ-producing T cells in response to EBV latent-cycle and lytic-cycle peptides.
The EBV load and the number of IFNγ-producing T-cells after peptide stimulation were not significantly different between groups at baseline (P = 0.61 and P = 0.89, respectively). The EBV load was not significantly modified by treatment, for RA with MTX (P = 0.74) or anti-TNF therapy (P = 0.94) or for SpA with anti-TNF therapy (P = 1.00). The number of EBV-specific T cells was not significantly modified by treatment, for RA with MTX (P = 0.58) or anti-TNF drugs (P = 0.19) or for SpA with anti-TNF therapy (P = 0.39). For all patients, the EBV load and EBV-specific T cells were significantly correlated (P = 0.017; R = 0.21). For most patients, short-term exposure (3 months) to MTX or anti-TNF did not alter the EBV load or EBV-specific T-cell response but two patients had discordant evolution.
These data are reassuring and suggest there is no short-term defect in EBV-immune surveillance in patients receiving MTX or anti-TNF drugs. However, in these patients, long term follow-up of EBV-specific T-cell response is necessary and the role of non-EBV-related mechanisms of lymphomagenesis is not excluded.
CTLA-4 encodes cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen-4, a cell-surface molecule providing a negative signal for T-cell activation. CTLA-4 gene polymorphisms have been widely studied in connection with genetic susceptibility to various autoimmune diseases, but studies have led to contradictory results in different populations. This case-control study sought to investigate whether CTLA-4 CT60 and/or +49A/G polymorphisms were involved in the genetic predisposition to primary Sjögren syndrome (pSS). We analysed CTLA-4 CT60 and +49A/G polymorphisms in a first cohort of 142 patients with pSS (cohort 1) and 241 controls, all of Caucasian origin. A replication study was performed on a second cohort of 139 patients with pSS (cohort 2). In cohort 1, the CTLA-4 +49A/G*A allele was found on 73% of chromosomes in patients with pSS, compared with 66% in controls (p = 0.036; odds ratio (OR) 1.41, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02 to 1.95). No difference in CTLA-4 CT60 allelic or genotypic distribution was observed between patients (n = 142) and controls (n = 241). In the replication cohort, the CTLA-4 +49A/G*A allele was found on 62% of chromosomes in patients with pSS, compared with 66% in controls (p = 0.30; OR 0.85, 95% CI 0.63 to 1.16). Thus, the CTLA-4 +49A/G*A allele excess among patients from cohort 1 was counterbalanced by its under-representation in cohort 2. When the results from the patients in both cohorts were pooled (n = 281), there was no difference in CTLA-4 +49A/G allelic or genotypic distribution in comparison with controls. Our results demonstrate a lack of association between CTLA-4 CT60 or +49A/G polymorphisms and pSS. Premature conclusions might have been made if a replication study had not been performed. These results illustrate the importance of case-control studies performed on a large number of patients. In fact, sampling bias may account for some contradictory results previously reported for CTLA-4 association studies in autoimmune diseases.
Reactivation of latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection is a major complication of anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α treatment, but its mechanism is not fully understood. We evaluated the effect of the TNF antagonists infliximab (Ifx), adalimumab (Ada) and etanercept (Eta) on anti-mycobacterial immune responses in two conditions: with ex vivo studies from patients treated with TNF antagonists and with the in vitro addition of TNF antagonists to cells stimulated with mycobacterial antigens. In both cases, we analysed the response of CD4+ T lymphocytes to purified protein derivative (PPD) and to culture filtrate protein (CFP)-10, an antigen restricted to Mtb. The tests performed were lymphoproliferation and immediate production of interferon (IFN)-γ. In the 68 patients with inflammatory diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, spondylarthropathy or Crohn's disease), including 31 patients with a previous or latent tuberculosis (TB), 14 weeks of anti-TNF-α treatment had no effect on the proliferation of CD4+ T lymphocytes. In contrast, the number of IFN-γ-releasing CD4+ T lymphocytes decreased for PPD (p < 0.005) and CFP-10 (p < 0.01) in patients with previous TB and for PPD (p < 0.05) in other patients (all vaccinated with Bacille Calmette-Guérin). Treatments with Ifx and with Eta affected IFN-γ release to a similar extent. In vitro addition of TNF antagonists to CD4+ T lymphocytes stimulated with mycobacterial antigens inhibited their proliferation and their expression of membrane-bound TNF (mTNF). These effects occurred late in cultures, suggesting a direct effect of TNF antagonists on activated mTNF+ CD4+ T lymphocytes, and Ifx and Ada were more efficient than Eta. Therefore, TNF antagonists have a dual action on anti-mycobacterial CD4+ T lymphocytes. Administered in vivo, they decrease the frequency of the subpopulation of memory CD4+ T lymphocytes rapidly releasing IFN-γ upon challenge with mycobacterial antigens. Added in vitro, they inhibit the activation of CD4+ T lymphocytes by mycobacterial antigens. Such a dual effect may explain the increased incidence of TB in patients treated with TNF antagonists as well as possible differences between TNF antagonists for the incidence and the clinical presentation of TB reactivation.
B cell-activating factor (BAFF) has a key role in promoting B-lymphocyte activation and survival in primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS). The cellular origin of BAFF overexpression in salivary glands of patients with pSS is not fully known. We investigated whether salivary gland epithelial cells (SGECs), the main targets of autoimmunity in pSS, could produce and express BAFF. We used quantitative RT-PCR, ELISA and immunocytochemistry in cultured SGECs from eight patients with pSS and eight controls on treatment with IL-10, tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), IFN-α and IFN-γ. At baseline, BAFF expression in SGECs was low in pSS patients and in controls. Treatment with IFN-α, IFN-γ and TNF-α + IFN-γ increased the level of BAFF mRNA in pSS patients (the mean increases were 27-fold, 25-fold and 62-fold, respectively) and in controls (mean increases 19.1-fold, 26.7-fold and 17.7-fold, respectively), with no significant difference between patients and controls. However, in comparison with that at baseline, stimulation with IFN-α significantly increased the level of BAFF mRNA in SGECs of pSS patients (p = 0.03) but not in controls (p = 0.2), which suggests that SGECs of patients with pSS are particularly susceptible to expressing BAFF under IFN-α stimulation. Secretion of BAFF protein, undetectable at baseline, was significantly increased after IFN-α and IFN-γ stimulation both in pSS patients (40.8 ± 12.5 (± SEM) and 47.4 ± 18.7 pg/ml, respectively) and controls (24.9 ± 8.0 and 9.0 ± 3.9 pg/ml, respectively), with no significant difference between pSS and controls. Immunocytochemistry confirmed the induction of cytoplasmic BAFF expression after stimulation with IFN-α and IFN-γ. This study confirms the importance of resident cells of target organs in inducing or perpetuating autoimmunity. Demonstrating the capacity of SGECs to express and secrete BAFF after IFN stimulation adds further information to the pivotal role of these epithelial cells in the pathogenesis of pSS, possibly after stimulation by innate immunity. Our results suggest that an anti-BAFF therapeutic approach could be particularly interesting in pSS.
Polyclonal B cell activation might be related to pathogenic over-expression of B-cell-activating factor (BAFF) in primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) and other autoimmune diseases. We therefore investigated whether BAFF over-expression in pSS could be a primary, genetically determined event that leads to the disease. The complete BAFF gene was sequenced in Caucasian pSS patients and control individuals. The only single nucleotide polymorphism frequently observed, namely -871 T/C in the promoter region, was then genotyped in 162 French patients with pSS and 90 French control individuals. No significant differences in allele (T allele frequency: 49.7% in patients with pSS versus 50% in controls; P = 0.94) and genotype frequencies of BAFF polymorphism were detected between pSS patients and control individuals. BAFF gene polymorphism was not associated with a specific pattern of antibody secretion either. T allele carriers had significantly increased BAFF protein serum levels (mean values of 8.6 and 5.7 ng/ml in patients with TT and TC genotypes, respectively, versus 3.3 ng/ml in patients with CC genotype; P = 0.01), although no correlation was observed between BAFF polymorphism and mRNA level. In conclusion, BAFF gene polymorphism is neither involved in genetic predisposition to pSS nor associated with a specific pattern of antibody production.
The development of drug-induced lupus remains a matter of concern in patients treated with anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF) alpha. The incidence of such adverse effects is unknown. We undertook a retrospective national study to analyse such patients.
Between June and October 2003, 866 rheumatology and internal medicine practitioners from all French hospital centres prescribing anti-TNF in rheumatic diseases registered on the website of the 'Club Rhumatismes et Inflammation' were contacted by email to obtain the files of patients with TNF-induced systemic lupus erythematosus. Twenty-two cases were collected, revealing two aspects of these manifestations. Ten patients (six patients receiving infliximab, four patients receiving etanercept) only had anti-DNA antibodies and skin manifestations one could classify as 'limited skin lupus' or 'toxidermia' in a context of autoimmunity, whereas 12 patients (nine patients receiving infliximab, three patients receiving etanercept) had more complete drug-induced lupus with systemic manifestations and at least four American Congress of Rheumatology criteria. One patient had central nervous system manifestations. No patients had lupus nephritis. The signs of lupus occurred within a mean of 9 months (range 3–16 months) in patients treated with infliximab and within a mean of 4 months (range 2–5 months) in patients treated with etanercept. In all cases after diagnosis was determined, anti-TNF was stopped and specific treatment introduced in eight patients: two patients received intravenous methylprednisolone, four patients received oral steroids (15–35 mg/day), and two patients received topical steroids. Lupus manifestations abated within a few weeks (median 8 weeks, standard deviation 3–16) in all patients except one with longer-lasting evolution (6 months). At that time, cautious estimations (unpublished data from Schering Plough Inc. and Wyeth Inc.) indicated that about 7700 patients had been exposed to infliximab and 3000 to etanercept for inflammatory arthritides in France. It thus appears that no drug was more implicated than the other in lupus syndromes, whose incidence was 15/7700 = 0.19% with infliximab and 7/3800 = 0.18% with etanercept.
Clinicians should be aware that lupus syndromes with systemic manifestations may occur in patients under anti-TNF alpha treatment.