B lymphocytes are the source of humoral immunity and are thus a critical component of the adaptive immune system. However, B cells can also be pathogenic and the origin of disease. Deregulated B-cell function has been implicated in several autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. B cells contribute to pathological immune responses through the secretion of cytokines, costimulation of T cells, antigen presentation, and the production of autoantibodies. DNA-and RNA-containing immune complexes can also induce the production of type I interferons, which further promotes the inflammatory response. B-cell depletion with the CD20 antibody rituximab has provided clinical proof of concept that targeting B cells and the humoral response can result in significant benefit to patients. Consequently, the interest in B-cell targeted therapies has greatly increased in recent years and a number of new biologics exploiting various mechanisms are now in clinical development. This review provides an overview on current developments in the area of B-cell targeted therapies by describing molecules and subpopulations that currently offer themselves as therapeutic targets, the different strategies to target B cells currently under investigation as well as an update on the status of novel therapeutics in clinical development. Emerging data from clinical trials are providing critical insight regarding the role of B cells and autoantibodies in various autoimmune conditions and will guide the development of more efficacious therapeutics and better patient selection.
To define the expression pattern of cadherin-11 in destructive pannus tissue of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and to determine if cadherin-11 expression in fibroblast-like synoviocytes controls their invasive capacity.
Cadherin-11 expression in rheumatoid synovial tissue was evaluated using immunohistochemistry. To examine the role of cadherin-11 in regulating the invasive behavior of fibroblast-like synoviocytes, we generated L-cell clones expressing wild-type cadherin-11, mutant cadherin-11, and empty vector transfected controls. The invasive capacity of L-cell transfectants and cultured fibroblast-like synoviocytes treated with a blocking cadherin-11-Fc protein or control immunoglobulin was determined in Matrigel invasion assays.
Immunohistochemistry revealed that cadherin-11 is abundantly expressed in cells at the cartilage-pannus junction in rheumatoid synovitis. Invasion assays demonstrate a twofold increased invasive capacity of cadherin-11 transfected L-cells compared to L-cells transfected with E-cadherin or control vector. The invasive behavior of the L-cells stably transfected with a cadherin-11 construct that lacked the juxta-membrane cytoplasmic domain (cadherin-11 ΔJMD) was diminished to the level of vector control L-cells. Further, treatment with the cadherin-11-Fc fusion protein diminished the invasive capacity of fibroblast-like synoviocytes.
These in vitro studies implicate a role for cadherin-11 in promoting cell invasion and contribute insight into the invasive nature of fibroblast-like synoviocytes in chronic synovitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Cadherin-11; Fibroblast-like Synoviocytes; Cell Invasion
The aim of this study was to assess long-term golimumab therapy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who discontinued previous tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) inhibitor(s) for any reason.
Results through week 24 of this multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of active RA (≥4 tender, ≥4 swollen joints) were previously reported. Patients received placebo (Group 1), 50 mg golimumab (Group 2) or 100 mg golimumab (Group 3) subcutaneous injections every 4 weeks. Patients from Groups 1 and 2 with <20% improvement in tender/swollen joints at week 16 early escaped to golimumab 50 mg and 100 mg, respectively. At week 24, Group 1 patients crossed over to golimumab 50 mg, Group 2 continued golimumab 50/100 mg per escape status and Group 3 maintained dosing. Data through week 160 are reported.
459 of the 461 randomised patients were treated; 236/459 (51%) continued treatment through week 160. From week 24 to week 100, ACR20 (≥20% improvement in American College of Rheumatology criteria) response and ≥0.25 unit HAQ (Health Assessment Questionnaire) improvement were sustained in 70–73% and 75–81% of responding patients, respectively. Overall at week 160, 63%, 67% and 57% of patients achieved ACR20 response and 59%, 65% and 64% had HAQ improvement ≥0.25 unit in Groups 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Adjusted for follow-up duration, adverse event incidences (95% CI) per 100 patient-years among patients treated with golimumab 50 mg and 100 mg were 4.70 (2.63 to 7.75) and 8.07 (6.02 to 10.58) for serious infection, 0.95 (0.20 to 2.77) and 2.04 (1.09 to 3.49) for malignancy and 0.00 (0.00 to 0.94) and 0.62 (0.17 to 1.59) for death, respectively.
In patients with active RA who discontinued previous TNF-antagonist treatment, golimumab 50 and 100 mg injections every 4 weeks yielded sustained improvements in signs/symptoms and physical function in ∼57–67% of patients who continued treatment. Golimumab safety was consistent with other anti-TNF agents, although definitive conclusions regarding long-term safety require further monitoring.
Neutrophilic granulocytes and monocytes (granulomonocytic cells; GMC) drive the inflammatory process at the earliest stages of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The migratory behavior and functional properties of GMC within the synovial tissue are, however, only incompletely characterized. Here we have analyzed GMC in the murine collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) model of RA using multi-photon real time in vivo microscopy together with ex vivo analysis of GMC in tissue sections.
GMC were abundant as soon as clinical arthritis was apparent. GMC were motile and migrated randomly through the synovial tissue. In addition, we observed the frequent formation of cell clusters consisting of both neutrophilic granulocytes and monocytes that actively contributed to the inflammatory process of arthritis. Treatment of animals with a single dose of prednisolone reduced the mean velocity of cell migration and diminished the overall immigration of GMC.
In summary, our study shows that the combined application of real time in vivo microscopy together with elaborate static post-mortem analysis of GMC enables the description of dynamic migratory characteristics of GMC together with their precise location in a complex anatomical environment. Moreover, this approach is sensitive enough to detect subtle therapeutic effects within a very short period of time.
To determine the validity and reliability of patients' self-performed joint counts compared to joint counts by professional assessors in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients in different disease activity states.
In patients with established RA we determined the inter-rater reliability of joint counts performed by an independent evaluator and the patient using intraclass correlation (ICC), and agreement on activity in individual joints by kappa statistics. We also performed longitudinal analyses to assess consistency of assessments over time. Finally, we investigated the concordance of joint counts of different assessors in patients with different levels of disease activity.
The reliability of patient self-performed joint counts was high when compared to independent objective assessment (ICC; 95%confidence interval (CI)) for the assessment of swelling (0.32; 0.15 to 0.46) and tenderness (0.75; 0.66 to 0.81), with higher agreement for larger joints (kappa: 0.57 and 0.45, respectively) compared to smaller joints (metacarpo-phalangeal joint (MCPs): 0.31 and 0.45; and proximal interphalangeal joint (PIPs): 0.22 and 0.47, for swelling and tenderness, respectively).
Patients in remission according to the Simplified Disease Activity Index (SDAI ≤ 3.3) showed better concordance of the joint counts (swollen joint count (SJC) ties 25/37, tender joint count (TJC) ties 26/37) compared to moderate/high disease activity states (SDAI > 11; MDA/HDA: SJC ties 9/72, TJC ties 21/72). Positive and negative predictive values regarding the presence of SDAI remission were reasonably good (0.86 and 0.95, respectively). A separate training session for patients did not improve the reliability of joint assessment. The results were consistent in the longitudinal analyses.
Self-performed joint counts are particularly useful for monitoring in patients having attained remission, as these patients seem able to detect state of remission.
With remission in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) an increasingly attainable goal, there is no widely used definition of remission that is stringent but achievable and could be applied uniformly as an outcome in clinical trials.
A committee consisting of members of the American College of Rheumatology, the European League Against Rheumatism and the Outcome Measures in Rheumatology Initiative (OMERACT) met to guide the process and review prespecified analyses from clinical trials of patients with RA. The committee requested a stringent definition (little, if any, active disease) and decided to use core set measures to define remission including at least joint counts and an acute phase reactant. Members were surveyed to select the level of each core set measure consistent with remission. Candidate definitions of remission were tested including those that constituted a number of individual measures in remission (Boolean approach) as well as definitions using disease activity indexes. To select a definition of remission, trial data were analyzed to examine the added contribution of patient reported outcomes and the ability of candidate measures to predict later good x-ray and functional outcomes.
Survey results for the definition of remission pointed to indexes at published thresholds and to a count of core set measures with each measure scored as 1 or less (e.g. tender and swollen joint counts, CRP and global assessments on 0-10 scale). Analyses suggested the need to include a patient reported measure. Examination of 2 year follow-up data suggested that many candidate definitions performed comparably in terms of predicting later good x-ray and functional outcomes, although DAS28 based measures of remission did not predict good radiographic outcomes as well as did the other candidate definitions. Given these and other considerations, we propose that a patient be defined as in remission based on one of two definitions : 1: When their scores on the following measures are all <1: tender joint count, swollen joint count, CRP (in mg/dL) and patient global assessment (0-10 scale), OR 2: when their score on the SDAI is < 3.3.
We propose two new definitions of remission both of which can be uniformly applied and widely used in RA clinical trials. We recommend that one of these be selected in each trial as an outcome and that the results on both be reported in each trial.
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.
To describe the experiences of people with systemic sclerosis (SSc) in different European countries of functioning and health and to link these experiences to the WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) to develop a common understanding from a bio-psycho-social perspective.
A qualitative multicentre study with focus-group interviews was performed in four European countries: Austria, Romania, Sweden and Switzerland. The qualitative data analysis followed a modified form of ‘meaning condensation’ and the concepts that emerged in the analysis were linked to the ICF.
63 people with SSc participated in 13 focus groups. In total, 86 concepts were identified. 32 (37%) of these were linked to the ICF component body functions and structures, 21 (24%) to activities and participation, 26 (30%) to environmental factors, 6 (7%) to personal factors and 1 (1%) to the health condition itself. 19 concepts (22%) were identified in all four countries and included impaired hand function, household activities, paid work, drugs, climate and coldness, support from others and experiences with healthcare institutions, non-pharmacological treatment, social security and benefits.
Concepts identified in all four countries could be used for guiding clinical assessment, as well as interdisciplinary team care and rheumatological rehabilitation for patients with SSc. For a full understanding of the aspects of the disease that were most relevant to people with SSc, people with SSc from multiple countries needed to be involved.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) are immune-mediated conditions that share an inflammatory mechanism fuelled by excessive cytokines, particularly TNF. Control of inflammation and rapid suppression of cytokines are important in treating these diseases. With this understanding and the corresponding advent of TNF inhibitors, RA patients, AS patients and PsA patients have found more choices than ever before and have greater hope of sustained relief. As a widely used TNF inhibitor, infliximab has a deep and established record of efficacy and safety data. Extensive evidence - from randomised controlled clinical trials, large registries and postmarketing surveillance studies - shows that infliximab effectively treats the signs and symptoms, provides rapid and prolonged suppression of inflammation, prevents radiologically observable disease progression and offers an acceptable safety profile in RA, AS and PsA. In very recent studies, investigators have observed drug-free remission in some patients. Additionally, infliximab may interfere with rapidly progressing disease in RA by early addition to methotrexate in patients with signs of an aggressive course. Finally, infliximab has been shown to reduce PsA clinical manifestations such as nail involvement. With our current understanding, substantial data and increasing confidence regarding use in practice, infliximab can be considered a well-known drug in our continued campaign against inflammatory rheumatic diseases.
To assess the impact of certolizumab pegol (CZP) on patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and to interpret these results using number needed to treat (NNT), and associations between PRO responses and longer term outcomes.
A total of 619 patients with active RA were randomised to CZP 200 or 400 mg, or placebo plus methotrexate (MTX). PROs assessed included pain, patient's global assessment of disease activity (PtGA), physical function, fatigue and health-related quality of life. Treatment impact on PROs, NNT to achieve simultaneous improvements in multiple PROs and correlations between PROs were calculated. Times to onset of improvements greater than or equal to minimum clinically important differences (MCIDs) in pain as a determinant of clinical outcomes at week 24 were compared between week 6 and 12 responders, and in patients with improvements in pain ≥MCID at week 12 (week 12 responders/non-responders).
CZP 200 and 400 mg plus MTX were associated with rapid, clinically meaningful improvements in all PROs. The NNT for subjects to report changes ≥MCID in up to five PROs was two to three, and five for all six PROs (pain, PtGA, physical function, fatigue and short-form 36-item Physical and Mental Component Summary Scores). More patients with improvements ≥MCID in pain at week 6 than those at week 12 had lower disease activity at week 24. Week 12 pain responders had better clinical outcomes at week 24 than non-responders.
The data demonstrate that CZP provides broad relief from the burden of RA.
Trial registration number
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.
To study the effects of short‐term intermediate dose glucocorticoid (GC) therapy in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPC), which are known to influence cardiovascular risk, and to elucidate mechanisms potentially responsible for the reduction of EPCs in patients with active RA.
EPCs were quantified in 29 patients with active RA by flow cytometry, colony forming unit (CFU) and circulating angiogenic cell (CAC) assays before and after 7 days of intermediate dose GC therapy. CFU from patients with RA and from healthy referents (HR) were cultured in vitro in the absence or presence of dexamethasone (Dex) and/or TNF.
After 1 week of GC therapy, EPC increased from 0.026 (SD 0.003)% to 0.053 (SD 0.010)% (p<0.01), and from 12 (SD 4) to 27 (SD 7) CFU/well (p<0.02); CAC also increased from 7 (SD 2) to 29 (SD 8) cells/high power field (p<0.05). In parallel, disease activity decreased significantly after GC treatment. TNF serum levels also decreased from 36 (SD 10) to 14 (SD 6) pg/ml (p<0.0001). Addition of Dex to the RA CFU led to a significant increase of mean CFU counts, whereas addition of TNF induced a decrease of CFU.
Our data indicate that TNF may be at least partly responsible for the reduction of EPC seen in patients with RA. Intermediate doses of GCs for a short period of time, apart from reducing disease activity, significantly increase circulating EPC.
Given the safety issues of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) and the robustness of guidelines, making treatment choices in daily clinical practice is increasingly difficult. This study aimed systematically to analyse the opinions of a multidisciplinary European expert panel on the appropriateness of different NSAID, with or without the use of a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), in individual patients with chronic rheumatic disease.
Using the Research and Development/University of California at Los Angeles appropriateness method, the appropriateness of five (non-)selective NSAID with or without a PPI was assessed for 144 hypothetical patient profiles, ie, unique combinations of cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risk factors. Appropriateness statements were calculated for all indications.
All options without PPI were considered appropriate in patients with no gastrointestinal/cardiovascular risk factors. Cyclooxygenase-2 selective inhibitors (C2SI) alone and non-selective NSAID plus PPI were preferred for patients with elevated gastrointestinal risk and low cardiovascular risk. Naproxen plus PPI was favoured in patients with high cardiovascular risk. For the combination of high gastrointestinal/high cardiovascular risk the use of any NSAID was discouraged; if needed, naproxen plus PPI or a C2SI plus PPI could be considered.
The panel results may support treatment considerations at the level of individual patients, according to their gastrointestinal/cardiovascular risk profile.
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.
osteoarthritis; hand; outcome measures; biomarkers; imaging
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may differ among rheumatologists and currently, clear and consensual international recommendations on RA treatment are not available. In this paper recommendations for the treatment of RA with synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and glucocorticoids (GCs) that also account for strategic algorithms and deal with economic aspects, are described. The recommendations are based on evidence from five systematic literature reviews (SLRs) performed for synthetic DMARDs, biological DMARDs, GCs, treatment strategies and economic issues. The SLR-derived evidence was discussed and summarised as an expert opinion in the course of a Delphi-like process. Levels of evidence, strength of recommendations and levels of agreement were derived. Fifteen recommendations were developed covering an area from general aspects such as remission/low disease activity as treatment aim via the preference for methotrexate monotherapy with or without GCs vis-à-vis combination of synthetic DMARDs to the use of biological agents mainly in patients for whom synthetic DMARDs and tumour necrosis factor inhibitors had failed. Cost effectiveness of the treatments was additionally examined. These recommendations are intended to inform rheumatologists, patients and other stakeholders about a European consensus on the management of RA with DMARDs and GCs as well as strategies to reach optimal outcomes of RA, based on evidence and expert opinion.
To obtain data on the care received by individuals counselled during a public health awareness campaign on painful musculoskeletal conditions (MSC).
Easy non‐formal access to rheumatologists/pain specialists was offered using a mobile unit (Rheuma‐Bus) at widely accessible sites. Clients were asked to assess their severity of pain using a 100 mm visual analogue scale (VAS). Age, gender, disease duration, diagnosis if known, current and previous treatment as well as tentative diagnoses assigned and recommendations given to each individual by the counselling physicians were recorded.
Average (SD) VAS pain rating was 59 (20.6) mm. Approximately 40% of clients had never consulted a physician for their condition before, but had lower pain scores than those who had seen a physician. Patients with inflammatory MSC had higher pain scores than those with non‐inflammatory conditions. More than 2% of the clients had a newly detected inflammatory rheumatic disease.
Many individuals having painful MSC seek medical help only when a very high threshold of pain is reached. Even while under treatment, the high mean pain scores suggest neglect of MSC that are not adequately recognised as important contributors to disability and decreased quality of life.
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.
Pristane-induced arthritis (PIA) in the rat has been described as an animal model of inflammatory arthritis which exhibits features similar to rheumatoid arthritis in humans, such as a chronic, destructive, and symmetrical involvement of peripheral joints. However, so far little is known about the earliest inflammatory events and their influence on locomotor behaviour during the course of PIA. To investigate this issue a detailed analysis of the pathologic changes occurring during the prodromal and early stages of PIA was performed.
Arthritis was induced in DA.rats by injection of 150 μl 2,6,10,4-tetramethyl-pentadecane (pristane) at the base of the tail and changes in locomotor behaviour of the affected paws were monitored using the CatWalk quantitative gait analysis system. The pathologic events occurring in the joints of pristane-injected animals were studied before onset, at onset, and during acute phase of arthritis by histological methods.
Gait analysis revealed that changes in locomotion such as reduced paw print areas and stance phase time are already apparent before the onset of clinically discernible arthritis symptoms (erythema, paw swelling) and correlate with PIA scores. In agreement with these findings, inflammatory tenosynovitis could be observed by histology already before the onset of erythema and swelling of the respective paws. In the most heavily affected rats also irregularities in step sequence patterns occurred A kinetic analysis of clinical and histological findings demonstrated that gait changes precede the pathological changes occurring during the acute phase of pristane-induced arthritis.
Gait analysis allows for pinpointing the initial inflammatory changes in experimental arthritis models such as pristane-induced arthritis. Analysis of early clinically relevant symptoms in arthritis models may facilitate the search for novel therapeutics to interfere with pain, inflammation and joint destruction in patients suffering from inflammatory arthritis.
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.
The changes occurring in the field of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) over the past decade or two have encompassed new therapies and, in particular, a new look at the clinical characteristics of the disease in the context of therapeutic improvements. It has been shown that composite disease activity indices have special merits in following patients, that disease activity governs the evolution of joint damage, and that disability can be dissected into several components – among them disease activity and joint damage. It has also been revealed that aiming at any disease activity state other than remission (or, at worst, low disease activity) is associated with significant progression of joint destruction, that early recognition and appropriate therapy of RA are important facets of the overall strategy of optimal clinical control of the disease, and that tight control employing composite scores supports the optimization of the therapeutic approaches. Finally, with the advent of novel therapies, remission has become a reality and the treatment algorithms encompassing all of the above-mentioned aspects will allow us to achieve the rigorous aspirations of today and tomorrow.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a heterogeneous disease with respect to clinical manifestations, serologic abnormalities, joint damage and functional impairment. Predicting outcome in a reliable way to allow for strategic therapeutic decision-making as well as for prediction of the response to the various therapeutic modalities available today, especially biological agents, would provide means for optimization of care. In the present article, the current information on biological and clinical markers related to disease activity and joint damage as well as for predictive purposes is reviewed. It will be shown that the relationship of many biomarkers with disease characteristics is confounded by factors unrelated to the disease, and that only few biomarkers exist with some predictive value. Moreover, clinical markers appear of equal value as biomarkers for this purpose, although they likewise have limited capacity in these regards. The analysis suggests the search for better markers to predict outcomes and therapeutic responsiveness in rheumatoid arthritis needs to be intensified.
Murine models of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have shown apparently contradictory evidence in that either (a) tumor necrosis factor (TNF) expression was low and TNF administration helpful or (b) TNF was high and TNF blockade of therapeutic benefit, depending on the mouse model investigated. In fact, TNF apparently has both effects, checking autoimmunity, at least to some degree, and fostering inflammation. TNF blockade regularly, but transiently, induces or increases autoantibodies to chromatin and to phospholipids. At the same time, open-label data suggest that TNF blockade suppresses inflammatory manifestations of SLE, and long-term benefit was seen in patients with lupus nephritis. A controlled clinical trial is under way.
Activator protein 1 (AP-1) (Fos/Jun) is a transcriptional regulator composed of members of the Fos and Jun families of DNA binding proteins. The functions of AP-1 were initially studied in mouse development as well as in the whole organism through conventional transgenic approaches, but also by gene targeting using knockout strategies. The importance of AP-1 proteins in disease pathways including the inflammatory response became fully apparent through conditional mutagenesis in mice, in particular when employing gene inactivation in a tissue-specific and inducible fashion. Besides the well-documented roles of Fos and Jun proteins in oncogenesis, where these genes can function both as tumor promoters or tumor suppressors, AP-1 proteins are being recognized as regulators of bone and immune cells, a research area termed osteoimmunology. In the present article, we review recent data regarding the functions of AP-1 as a regulator of cytokine expression and an important modulator in inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. These new data provide a better molecular understanding of disease pathways and should pave the road for the discovery of new targets for therapeutic applications.
In this study, we compare the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of patients with moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and study the effect of treatment with infliximab on the HRQoL of patients with these diseases. Short Form Health Survey-36 (SF-36) data from the placebo-controlled phases of 4 studies of infliximab in patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases (n = 1990) were evaluated. Data came from the Anti-TNF Trial in Rheumatoid Arthritis with Concomitant Therapy (ATTRACT) (n = 428), the Safety Trial for Rheumatoid Arthritis with REMICADE Therapy (START) (n = 1083), the Ankylosing Spondylitis Study for the Evaluation of Recombinant Infliximab Therapy (ASSERT) (n = 279), and the Infliximab Multinational Psoriatic Arthritis Clinical Trial II (IMPACT II) (n = 200). SF-36 assessments were made at weeks 0, 10, 30, and 54 in ATTRACT, weeks 0, 6, and 22 in START, weeks 0, 12, and 24 in ASSERT, and weeks 0 and 14 in IMPACT II. All patient populations had significantly impaired physical aspects of HRQoL at baseline relative to the general population of the United States, and the magnitude of impairment was similar across the diseases. Mean baseline physical component summary scores were 29 in the RA cohort, 32 in the PsA cohort, and 29 in the AS cohort. In all 3 diseases, patients who received infliximab showed significant improvement in physical component summary scores compared with those who received placebo. The magnitude of the difference of improvement (effect size, 95%CI) between infliximab and placebo groups was similar in the AS (10.1, 9.2–11.0), PsA (8.6, 7.8–9.4), and RA (10.1, 9.2–11.0) cohorts. Patients with RA and those with PsA treated with infliximab also showed greater improvement in the mental component summary score than those in the placebo group with an effect size of 4.6 (4.2–5.1) in RA and 2.7 (2.4–3.1) in PsA. Patients in large randomized controlled studies of infliximab in RA, PsA, and AS had similar impairment in physical aspects of HRQoL at baseline and showed significantly greater improvement in HRQoL after treatment with infliximab.