Anticardiolipin Antibodies; Antiphospholipid Antibodies; Antiphospholipid Syndrome
An association between 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D; vitamin D) deficiency and increased cardiovascular (CV) risk factors and CV disease (CVD) has been shown in general population studies. Vitamin D deficiency has been noted in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and CVD is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in SLE. The objectives of this study were to estimate the associations of 25(OH)D levels with CV risk factors and to determine whether low baseline 25(OH)D levels predict future CV events in patients participating in an international inception cohort.
Data were collected on 890 participants, including demographics, SLE activity and damage assessments, CV risk factors and events, medications, laboratory assessments of 25(OH)D levels, and inflammatory markers. Multiple logistic and Cox regressions were used to estimate the associations of baseline 25(OH)D levels with baseline CV risk factors and CVD events. The models were adjusted for age, sex, race, season, and country, with and without body mass index.
Patients in the higher quartiles of 25(OH)D were less likely to have hypertension and hyperlipidemia and were more likely to have lower C-reactive protein levels and lower Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index 2000 scores at baseline when compared with the first quartile. Vitamin D levels were not independently associated with CVD event incidence; however, hazard ratios for CVD event incidence decreased with successively higher quartiles.
Lower baseline 25(OH)D levels are associated with higher risk for CV risk factors and more active SLE at baseline. There may be a trend toward a lower likelihood of CVD events in those with higher baseline 25(OH)D levels.
In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), predictive biomarkers for subsequent radiographic progression (RP) could improve therapeutic choices for individual patients. We previously showed that the multibiomarker disease activity (MBDA) score in patients with newly diagnosed RA identified patients at risk for RP. We evaluated the MBDA score at multiple time-points as a predictor of RP during 2 years of follow-up.
A subset of patients with RA (N=220) from the Swedish Farmacotherapy (SWEFOT) trial were analysed for MBDA score, disease activity score of 28 joints (DAS28), C reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) at baseline (BL), month 3 and year 1, for predicting RP based on modified Sharp/van der Heijde scores at BL, year 1 and year 2.
Patients with persistently low MBDA (<30) scores or those with a decrease from moderate (30–44) to low MBDA scores, did not develop RP during 2 years of follow-up. The highest risk for RP during 2 years of follow-up (42%) was observed among patients with persistently high (>44) MBDA scores. Among methotrexate non-responders with a high MBDA score at BL or month 3, significantly more of those who received triple therapy had RP at year 2 compared with those who received antitumour necrosis factor therapy.
Measuring the MBDA score both before and during treatment in RA was useful for the assessment of individual patient risk for RP during 2 years of follow-up. In comparison with low CRP, ESR or DAS28, a low MBDA score at any time-point was associated with numerically lower proportions of RP.
Trial registration number
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Anti-TNF; Cytokines; Disease Activity; Patient perspective
To determine the relationship between changes in antibody levels towards citrullinated peptides derived from different candidate autoantigens and therapeutic outcome in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Baseline and 3-month serum samples from 316 patients with early RA enrolled in the Swedish Farmacotherapy (SWEFOT) trial were analysed for antibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptides (CCP) and citrullinated peptides derived from vimentin (cVim), fibrinogen (cFib) and α-enolase (CEP-1). At 3-month follow-up, methotrexate monotherapy-inadequate responders were randomised to add-on therapy with sulfasalazine and hydroxychloroquine or infliximab. In these patients, anticitrullinated peptide antibodies (ACPA) were also assessed at 12 and 24 months. The proportion of antibody-positive patients and relative changes in antibody levels were compared across ACPA specificities and related to therapeutic response and radiographic progression.
During the 2-year follow-up, the proportion of patients testing positive declined significantly regarding antibodies to cVim, cFib and CEP-1, while anti-CCP antibody occurrence remained stable over time. Turning anti-cVim antibody negative was most common, and anti-cVim antibody seroreversion during the first three months associated with significantly less 2-year radiographic progression compared with patients who remained positive. Median antibody levels of all tested ACPAs declined uniformly during initial methotrexate therapy and following response to add-on therapy, with no significant relation to treatment regimen or radiographic progression.
The influence of early antirheumatic therapy on ACPA seroreversions was markedly different across specificities, and early disappearance of anti-cVim antibodies associated with better radiological outcome. Thus, these data suggest that the disappearance of particular ACPA reactivities may be beneficial in early RA.
Trial registration number
WHO database at the Karolinska institute: CT20080004; and clinicaltrials.gov: NCT00764725.
Ant-CCP; Autoantibodies; DMARDs (biologic); DMARDs (synthetic); Early Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some studies suggest that the risk for and severity of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can be modified by certain nutrients. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between diet and glucocorticoid (GC) treatment, as a proxy for disease activity, in patients with SLE.
We included 111 patients with SLE from the SLE Vascular Impact Cohort (SLEVIC). Dietary data were linked with data on GC treatment during a 2-year period. The association between diet and GC treatment was analysed with logistic regression. GC treatment and unchanged/increased doses were considered a proxy for active SLE.
During the 2-year period, 54 patients (48.6%) had continued GC treatment. Dietary vitamin D was associated with GC treatment (OR=2.70–2.85 (95% CI 1.00 to 8.11)), whereas alcohol was inversely associated with GC treatment (OR=0.28–0.39 (95% CI 0.10 to 98)). Beta-carotene, fatty acid C18:2 and vitamin B6 were inversely associated with unchanged/increased GC dose (OR=0.29–0.30 (95% CI 0.10 to 0.90)). Finally, total energy intake was associated with GC doses >5.0 mg/day and >7.5 mg/day, explaining a direct association between 35 nutrients and higher GC dose levels (OR=2.98–23.82 (95% CI 1.01 to 203.88)).
Dietary vitamin D did not protect against lupus activity. Beta-carotene, fatty acid C18:2 and vitamin B6 may protect against increased GC dose. The inverse association between alcohol intake and GC treatment/lupus activity may provide a partial explanation for the link between moderate alcohol intake and reduced risk of SLE. The association between higher dietary intake and higher GC dose levels indicated GC's influence on increasing appetite.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Corticosteroids; Disease Activity
Reaching the therapeutic target of remission or low-disease activity has improved outcomes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) significantly. The treat-to-target recommendations, formulated in 2010, have provided a basis for implementation of a strategic approach towards this therapeutic goal in routine clinical practice, but these recommendations need to be re-evaluated for appropriateness and practicability in the light of new insights.
To update the 2010 treat-to-target recommendations based on systematic literature reviews (SLR) and expert opinion.
A task force of rheumatologists, patients and a nurse specialist assessed the SLR results and evaluated the individual items of the 2010 recommendations accordingly, reformulating many of the items. These were subsequently discussed, amended and voted upon by >40 experts, including 5 patients, from various regions of the world. Levels of evidence, strengths of recommendations and levels of agreement were derived.
The update resulted in 4 overarching principles and 10 recommendations. The previous recommendations were partly adapted and their order changed as deemed appropriate in terms of importance in the view of the experts. The SLR had now provided also data for the effectiveness of targeting low-disease activity or remission in established rather than only early disease. The role of comorbidities, including their potential to preclude treatment intensification, was highlighted more strongly than before. The treatment aim was again defined as remission with low-disease activity being an alternative goal especially in patients with long-standing disease. Regular follow-up (every 1–3 months during active disease) with according therapeutic adaptations to reach the desired state was recommended. Follow-up examinations ought to employ composite measures of disease activity that include joint counts. Additional items provide further details for particular aspects of the disease, especially comorbidity and shared decision-making with the patient. Levels of evidence had increased for many items compared with the 2010 recommendations, and levels of agreement were very high for most of the individual recommendations (≥9/10).
The 4 overarching principles and 10 recommendations are based on stronger evidence than before and are supposed to inform patients, rheumatologists and other stakeholders about strategies to reach optimal outcomes of RA.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Outcomes research; Treatment; Early Rheumatoid Arthritis; Disease Activity
The aim of the Dose Reduction or Discontinuation of Etanercept in Methotrexate-Treated Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Who Have Achieved a Stable Low Disease Activity-State study was to investigate the effect of etanercept (ETN) dose maintenance, reduction or withdrawal on patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who had already achieved stable low disease activity (LDA) on ETN 50 mg+methotrexate (MTX).
Patients with RA (n=91) and stable LDA with ETN 50 mg once weekly (QW)+MTX were included. After 8 weeks with unchanged treatment, 73 patients were randomised in a double-blind design to ETN 50 mg QW+MTX (ETN50), ETN 25 mg QW+MTX (ETN25) or placebo QW+MTX (PBO) for 48 weeks. Patients who flared were declared failures and treated with open-label ETN50 until week 48. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients on ETN50 versus PBO who were non-failures after 48 weeks.
The proportion of non-failure patients was significantly lower with ETN50 (52%; p=0.007) and ETN25 (44%; p=0.044) versus PBO (13%). Median time to failure was significantly shorter with PBO (6 weeks) compared with ETN50 (48 weeks; p=0.001) and ETN25 (36 weeks; p<0.001). The majority of patients who flared regained LDA with open-label ETN50 quickly. Adverse events were consistent with the known side effect profiles of these medications.
In patients with established RA who have achieved stable LDA on ETN50+MTX, continuing both is superior to PBO+MTX. Reduced dose ETN was also more effective than PBO in maintaining a favourable response, suggesting that a maintenance strategy with reduced dose ETN may be possible in a number of patients with established RA.
Trial registration number
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Methotrexate; Anti-TNF
A systematic literature review (SLR; 2009–2014) to compare a target-oriented approach with routine management in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to allow an update of the treat-to-target recommendations.
Two SLRs focused on clinical trials employing a treatment approach targeting a specific clinical outcome were performed. In addition to testing clinical, functional and/or structural changes as endpoints, comorbidities, cardiovascular risk, work productivity and education as well as patient self-assessment were investigated. The searches covered MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane databases and Clinicaltrial.gov for the period between 2009 and 2012 and separately for the period of 2012 to May of 2014.
Of 8442 citations retrieved in the two SLRs, 176 articles underwent full-text review. According to predefined inclusion/exclusion criteria, six articles were included of which five showed superiority of a targeted treatment approach aiming at least at low-disease activity versus routine care; in addition, publications providing supportive evidence were also incorporated that aside from expanding the evidence provided by the above six publications allowed concluding that a target-oriented approach leads to less comorbidities and cardiovascular risk and better work productivity than conventional care.
The current study expands the evidence that targeting low-disease activity or remission in the management of RA conveys better outcomes than routine care.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Treatment; Disease Activity
Treatment with tumour necrosis factor (TNF) blockers, once started as therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is usually continued indefinitely. The aim of this trial was to assess the possibility of discontinuing treatment with adalimumab (ADA) while maintaining remission in patients with RA with established disease in stable remission on combination therapy with ADA and methotrexate (MTX).
In a randomised, controlled, open-label pilot study of patients with RA in stable remission treated with ADA+MTX, patients were randomised in a 1:1 ratio to continue with ADA plus MTX (arm AM) or MTX monotherapy (arm M) for 52 weeks. Flare was defined as Disease Activity Score (DAS28) ≥2.6 or a change in DAS28 (ΔDAS28) of >1.2 from baseline at any time. Patients in arm M with a flare restarted ADA. The primary end point was the proportion of patients in remission at week 28.
31 patients were enrolled in the study and randomised to arm AM (n=16) or arm M (n=15). At 28 weeks, 15/16 patients (94%) and 5/15 patients (33%) in arms AM and M, respectively, were in remission (p=0.001). During the first 28 weeks, 50% (8/16) in the AM arm and 80% (12/15) in the M arm had a flare (p=0.08). The number of patients in the AM and M arms with ≥1 ΔDAS28 >1.2 during the first 28 weeks was 1/16 (6%) and 8/15 (53%), respectively (p=0.005).
In this study, remission was rarely maintained in patients with long-standing disease who discontinued ADA. Discontinuation may be feasible in only a minority of patients with established RA in stable clinical remission.
Trial registration number
Anti-TNF; Rheumatoid Arthritis; Treatment
Anti-C1q has been associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and lupus nephritis in previous studies. We studied anti-C1q specificity for SLE (vs. rheumatic disease controls) and the association with SLE manifestations in an international multi-center study.
Information and blood samples were obtained in a cross-sectional study from patients with SLE (n=308) and other rheumatologic diseases (n=389) from 25 clinical sites (84% female, 68% Caucasian, 17% African descent, 8% Asian, 7% other). IgG anti-C1q against the collagen-like region was measured by ELISA.
Prevalence of anti-C1q was 28% (86/308) in patients with SLE and 13% (49/389) in controls (OR=2.7, 95% CI: 1.8-4, p<0.001). Anti-C1q was associated with proteinuria (OR=3.0, 95% CI: 1.7-5.1, p<0.001), red cell casts (OR=2.6, 95% CI: 1.2-5.4, p=0.015), anti-dsDNA (OR=3.4, 95% CI: 1.9-6.1, p<0.001) and anti-Smith (OR=2.8, 95% CI: 1.5-5.0, p=0.01). Anti-C1q was independently associated with renal involvement after adjustment for demographics, ANA, anti-dsDNA and low complement (OR=2.3, 95% CI: 1.3-4.2, p<0.01). Simultaneously positive anti-C1q, anti-dsDNA and low complement was strongly associated with renal involvement (OR=14.9, 95% CI: 5.8-38.4, p<0.01).
Anti-C1q was more common in patients with SLE and those of Asian race/ethnicity. We confirmed a significant association of anti-C1q with renal involvement, independent of demographics and other serologies. Anti-C1q in combination with anti-dsDNA and low complement was the strongest serological association with renal involvement. These data support the usefulness of anti-C1q in SLE, especially in lupus nephritis.
This 28-week, phase IIIb study assessed safety and maintenance of response to certolizumab pegol (CZP) in a diverse population of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, stratified by prior anti-TNF exposure, concomitant methotrexate (MTX) use and disease duration. The ability to predict achievement of low disease activity (LDA) at week 28 from improvements in Disease Activity Score 28 (DAS28), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), swollen joint count (SJC) and Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI) up to week 12 was assessed.
The 28-week study population included all patients who completed the double-blind (DB) phase and entered the open-label (OL) phase, receiving 200 mg CZP every 2 weeks (Q2W) ≥16 weeks. In the 12-week DB period, patients with active RA and an inadequate response to ≥1 disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) were randomized 4:1 to CZP (400 mg at weeks 0, 2 and 4 then 200 mg Q2W) or placebo (Q2W), stratified by prior anti-TNF use, concomitant use of MTX and disease duration (<2 years vs. ≥2 years).
A total of 955 patients entered the OL phase. At week 28, similar clinical improvements were seen in those receiving CZP throughout (CZP → CZP; n = 771) and those receiving placebo during the DB phase and switching to CZP in the OL phase (placebo → CZP; n = 184) (ACR20 response rate = 59.7 % vs. 53.3 %; ACR50/ACR70 response rates were also similar). Effect of CZP treatment was similar regardless of prior anti-TNF use, disease duration and concomitant DMARDs, based on ACR20 response rates. The percentage of patients achieving DAS28(ESR) LDA at week 28 was calculated for DAS28(ESR), SJC or CDAI responders at earlier time points. Reductions from baseline (Δ) of DAS28(ESR) <1.2, ΔSJC <25 % or ΔCDAI <10 by week 12 were associated with <9 % chance of achieving LDA at week 28 regardless of prior anti-TNF exposure. Adverse event rates were similar for placebo → CZP and CZP → CZP patients, with no new safety signals identified.
A diverse population of RA patients with varying disease duration showed rapid and sustained clinical improvements on CZP treatment, regardless of prior anti-TNF or concomitant DMARD use. Failure to achieve improvements in DAS28(ESR), SJC or CDAI within the first 12 weeks of CZP therapy was associated with a low chance of achieving LDA at week 28. No new safety signals were observed.
ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00717236, 15 July 2008
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0841-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Rheumatoid arthritis; Anti-TNF; DMARDs (biologic)
The identification of biomarkers that predict optimal and individual choices of treatment for patients with rheumatoid arthritis gains increasing attention. The purpose of this study was to investigate if the proto-oncogene survivin might aid in treatment decisions in early rheumatoid arthritis.
Serum survivin levels were measured in 302 patients who completed the Swedish pharmacotherapy (SWEFOT) trial at baseline, 3, 12, and 24 months. Survivin levels > 0.45 ng/mL were considered positive. Based on the survivin status, core set outcomes measuring disease activity, functional disability, as well as global health and pain were evaluated after methotrexate (MTX) monotherapy at 3 months, and at 12 and 24 months of follow-up. Treatment of non-responders was randomly intensified with either a combination of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (triple therapy: MTX, sulfasalazine, and hydroxychloroquine) or by adding antibodies against tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF).
Antirheumatic treatment resulted in an overall decrease of serum survivin levels. Survivin-positive patients at baseline who initially responded to MTX had a higher risk of disease re-activation (OR 3.21 (95 % CI 1.12–9.24), P = 0.032) and failed to improve in their functional disability (P = 0.018) if having continued on MTX monotherapy compared to survivin-negative patients. Ever-smokers who were survivin-positive were less likely to respond to MTX than those who were survivin-negative (OR 1.91 (1.01–3.62), P = 0.045). In survivin-positive patients, triple therapy led to better improvements in disease activity than did MTX + anti-TNF. At 24 months, survivin-positive patients randomized to anti-TNF had a higher risk of active disease than those randomized to triple therapy (OR 3.15 (1.09–9.10), P = 0.037).
We demonstrate for the first time that survivin is a valuable serologic marker that can distinguish drug-specific clinical responses in early rheumatoid arthritis through the pragmatic clinical setting of the care-based SWEFOT trial. Although treatment response cannot solely be attributable to survivin status, per protocol sensitivity analyses confirmed the superior effect of triple therapy on survivin-positive patients.
Survivin-positive patients have poor outcomes if treated with MTX monotherapy. A decrease of survivin levels during treatment is associated with better clinical responses. For survivin-positive patients who fail MTX, triple therapy is associated with better outcomes than anti-TNF therapy.
WHO database at the Karolinska University Hospital: CT20080004; ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00764725, registered 1 October 2008.
Rheumatoid arthritis; Biomarkers; Survivin; Methotrexate; Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs; Anti-TNF; Disease activity; Functional disability
As patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) receive treatment with anti-tumour necrosis factors over several years, it is important to evaluate their long-term safety and efficacy. The objective of this study was to examine the safety and benefits of certolizumab pegol (CZP)+methotrexate (MTX) treatment for almost 5 years in patients with RA.
Patients who completed the 24-week Rheumatoid Arthritis Prevention of Structural Damage (RAPID) 2 randomized controlled trial (RCT; NCT00160602), or who were American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 20 non-responders at Week 16, entered the open-label extension (OLE; NCT00160641). After ≥6 months treatment with CZP 400 mg every two weeks (Q2W), dose was reduced to 200 mg Q2W, the approved maintenance dose. Safety data are presented from all patients who received ≥1 dose CZP (Safety population, n=612). Efficacy data are presented to Week 232 for the intent-to-treat (ITT, n=492) and Week 24 CZP RCT Completer (n=342) populations, and through 192 weeks of dose-reduction for the Dose-reduction population (patients whose CZP dose was reduced to 200 mg, n=369). Radiographic progression (modified total Sharp score change from RCT baseline >0.5) to Week 128 is reported for the Week 24 CZP Completers.
In the RCT, 619 patients were randomized to CZP+MTX (n=492) or placebo+MTX (n=127). Overall, 567 patients (91.6%) entered the OLE: 447 CZP and 120 placebo patients. Of all randomized patients, 358 (57.8%) were ongoing at Week 232. Annual drop-out rates during the first four years ranged from 8.4–15.0%. Event rates per 100 patient-years were 163.0 for adverse events (AEs) and 15.7 for serious AEs. Nineteen patients (3.1%) had fatal AEs (incidence rate=0.8). Clinical improvements in the RCT were maintained to Week 232 in the CZP Completers: mean Disease Activity Score 28 (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate) change from baseline was −3.4 and ACR20/50/70 responses 68.4%/47.1%/25.1% (non-responder imputation). Similar improvements observed in the ITT were maintained following dose-reduction. 73.2% of CZP Completers had no radiographic progression at Week 128.
In patients with active RA despite MTX therapy, CZP was well tolerated, with no new safety signals identified. CZP provided sustained improvements in clinical outcomes for almost 5 years.
ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00160602 and NCT00160641. Registered 8 September 2005.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-015-0767-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Background and aims
We studied damage accrual and factors determining development and progression of damage in an international cohort of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients.
The Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) Inception Cohort recruited patients within 15 months of developing four or more 1997 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria for SLE; the SLICC/ACR damage index (SDI) was measured annually. We assessed relative rates of transition using maximum likelihood estimation in a multistate model. The Kaplan–Meier method estimated the probabilities for time to first increase in SDI score and Cox regression analysis was used to assess mortality.
We recruited 1722 patients; mean (SD) age 35.0 (13.4) years at cohort entry. Patients with damage at enrolment were more likely to have further worsening of SDI (SDI 0 vs ≥1; p<0.001). Age, USA African race/ethnicity, SLEDAI-2K score, steroid use and hypertension were associated with transition from no damage to damage, and increase(s) in pre-existing damage. Male gender (relative transition rates (95% CI) 1.48 (1.06 to 2.08)) and USA Caucasian race/ethnicity (1.63 (1.08 to 2.47)) were associated with SDI 0 to ≥1 transitions; Asian race/ethnicity patients had lower rates of new damage (0.60 (0.39 to 0.93)). Antimalarial use was associated with lower rates of increases in pre-existing damage (0.63 (0.44 to 0.89)). Damage was associated with future mortality (HR (95% CI) 1.46 (1.18 to 1.81) per SDI point).
Damage in SLE predicts future damage accrual and mortality. We identified several potentially modifiable risk factors for damage accrual; an integrated strategy to address these may improve long-term outcomes.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Outcomes research; Corticosteroids; Inflammation
The advent of new medications and new treatment strategies for rheumatoid arthritis has made it possible to achieve remission in more patients than before. Furthermore, recent clinical trials and register studies suggest that some patients who initially required aggressive therapy may achieve biologic-free remission or even the ultimate goal of therapy, drug-free remission, resembling recovery. Here, we present a discursive review of the most important studies addressing these issues. Based on the overall results, it remains unclear if achieving biologic-free and drug-free remissions are primarily due to the natural course of the disease or to the early therapeutic intervention according to the ‘window of opportunity’ hypothesis. Although medication-free remission is only achievable in a small subset of patients, characterizing this patient cohort may provide important information about beneficial prognostic factors and the underlying mechanisms. In summary, in a subset of patients biologic-free and even drug-free remission can be achieved; pursuing these possibilities in practice may decrease the risk for long-term side effects and attenuate the economic burden of the disease.
The metabolic syndrome (MetS) may contribute to the increased cardiovascular risk in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We examined the association between MetS and disease activity, disease phenotype and corticosteroid exposure over time in patients with SLE.
Recently diagnosed (<15 months) patients with SLE from 30 centres across 11 countries were enrolled into the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) Inception Cohort from 2000 onwards. Baseline and annual assessments recorded clinical, laboratory and therapeutic data. A longitudinal analysis of factors associated with MetS in the first 2 years of follow-up was performed using random effects logistic regression.
We studied 1150 patients with a mean (SD) age of 34.9 (13.6) years and disease duration at enrolment of 24.2 (18.0) weeks. In those with complete data, MetS prevalence was 38.2% at enrolment, 34.8% at year 1 and 35.4% at year 2. In a multivariable random effects model that included data from all visits, prior MetS status, baseline renal disease, SLICC Damage Index >1, higher disease activity, increasing age and Hispanic or Black African race/ethnicity were independently associated with MetS over the first 2 years of follow-up in the cohort.
MetS is a persistent phenotype in a significant proportion of patients with SLE. Renal lupus, active inflammatory disease and damage are SLE-related factors that drive MetS development while antimalarial agents appear to be protective from early in the disease course.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; Cardiovascular Disease; Inflammation
To study clinical predictors for radiographic progression after 1 year in an early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) trial.
In the SWEFOT trial population, disease modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) naïve RA patients started methotrexate; 3-month responders (DAS28 <3.2) continued (n=147), while non-responders were randomised to addition of sulfasalazine+hydroxychloroquine (n=130) or infliximab (n=128). X-rays were scored by the Sharp-van der Hejde score (SHS) method and radiographic progression was defined as a ≥5 increase after 1 year. Potential baseline predictors of radiographic progression were tested using multivariable logistic regression, adjusted for potential confounders.
79 of 311 patients with available radiographs at baseline and follow-up had radiographic progression. The following baseline parameters were independent predictors of radiographic progression at 1 year: baseline erosions (adjusted OR=2.29, 95% CI 1.24 to 4.24), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (adjusted OR per tertile increase=1.72, 95% CI 1.12 to 2.65) and C-reactive protein (adjusted OR per tertile increase=1.52, 95% CI 1.03 to 2.26). Current smoking was an independent predictor of radiographic progression (adjusted OR=2.17, 95% CI 1.06 to 4.45). These results remained after further adjustment for treatment strategy. Three-dimensional matrix including current smoking status, erosions and C-reactive protein tertiles showed a 12–63% risk gradient from patients carrying none compared with all predictors. Rheumatoid factor (RF)/anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) positivity did not significantly predict radiographic progression using SHS increase ≥5 as cut-off. In a secondary exploratory analysis using cut-off >1, both RF and anti-CCP positivity were significant predictors in the unadjusted, but not the adjusted analyses. The other parameters also remained significant using this lower cut-off.
In addition to previously described predictors, we identified smoking as a strong independent risk factor for radiographic progression in early RA.
Trial registration number
Early Rheumatoid Arthritis; Outcomes research; Smoking
The correct identification of synovitis is critical for achieving optimal therapy results. Fluorescence optical imaging (FOI) is a novel modality based on the use of an intravenous fluorophore, which enables fluorescent imaging of the hands and wrists with increased focal optical signal intensities in areas of high perfusion and/or capillary leakage. The study objective was to determine the diagnostic utility of FOI in detecting apparent and clinically non-apparent active synovitis.
Bilateral hand and wrist joints (n=872) of 26 patients with inflammatory arthritis assessed by standard clinical examination, musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSUS) and FOI were studied. Synovitis was defined as tender and swollen joints on clinical examination, presence of synovial thickening and intra-articular Doppler signals on MSUS, and abnormal focal optical signal intensities on FOI, respectively. Subclinical synovitis was defined as being clinically non-apparent, but positively inflamed on MSUS.
Depending on the standard used to define inflammation, FOI ranged from 73–83% sensitive and 83–95% specific for detecting manifest synovitis. For detecting clinically silent synovitis, the sensitivity, specificity and positive and negative predictive values of FOI were 80%, 96%, 77% and 97%, respectively.
The high degree of agreement between MSUS and FOI suggest its use in clinical practice, especially when MSUS is not available, in order to identify synovitis earlier and with greater confidence. FOI may be particularly useful in identifying patients with clinically non-apparent joint inflammation of the hands and/or wrists.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Synovitis; Ultrasonography; Inflammation; Multidisciplinary team-care
To estimate the incremental cost-effectiveness of infliximab versus conventional combination treatment over 21 months in patients with methotrexate-refractory early rheumatoid arthritis.
In this multicentre, two-arm, parallel, randomised, active-controlled, open-label trial, rheumatoid arthritis patients with <1 year symptom duration were recruited from 15 rheumatology clinics in Sweden between October 2002 and December 2005. After 3–4 months of methotrexate monotherapy, patients not achieving low disease activity were randomised to addition of infliximab or sulfasalazine+hydroxychloroquine (conventional treatment group). Costs of drugs, healthcare use, and productivity losses were retrieved from nationwide registers, while EuroQol 5-Dimensions utility was collected quarterly.
Of 487 patients initially enrolled, 128 and 130 were randomised to infliximab and conventional treatment, respectively. The infliximab group accumulated higher drug and healthcare costs (€27 487 vs €10 364; adjusted mean difference €16 956 (95% CI 14 647 to 19 162)), while productivity losses did not differ (€33 804 vs €29 220; €3961 (95% CI −3986 to 11 850)), resulting in higher societal cost compared to the conventional group (€61 291 vs €39 584; €20 916 (95% CI 12 800 to 28 660)). Mean accumulated quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) did not differ (1.10 vs 1.12; adjusted mean difference favouring infliximab treatment 0.01 (95% CI −0.07 to 0.08)). The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios for the infliximab versus conventional treatment strategy were €2 404 197/QALY from the societal perspective and €1 948 919/QALY from the healthcare perspective.
In early, methotrexate-refractory rheumatoid arthritis, a treatment strategy commencing with addition of infliximab, as compared to sulfasalazine+hydroxychloroquine, was not cost-effective over 21 months at willingness to pay levels generally considered acceptable.
Trial registration number:
Prediction of radiographic progression (RP) in early rheumatoid arthritis (eRA) would be very useful for optimal choice among available therapies. We evaluated a multi-biomarker disease activity (MBDA) score, based on 12 serum biomarkers as a baseline predictor for 1-year RP in eRA.
Baseline disease activity score based on erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28-ESR), disease activity score based on C-reactive protein (DAS28-CRP), CRP, MBDA scores and DAS28-ESR at 3 months were analysed for 235 patients with eRA from the Swedish Farmacotherapy (SWEFOT) clinical trial. RP was defined as an increase in the Van der Heijde-modified Sharp score by more than five points over 1 year. Associations between baseline disease activity measures, the MBDA score, and 1-year RP were evaluated using univariate and multivariate logistic regression, adjusted for potential confounders.
Among 235 patients with eRA, 5 had low and 29 moderate MBDA scores at baseline. None of the former and only one of the latter group (3.4%) had RP during 1 year, while the proportion of patients with RP among those with high MBDA score was 20.9% (p=0.021). Among patients with low/moderate CRP, moderate DAS28-CRP or moderate DAS28-ESR at baseline, progression occurred in 14%, 15%, 14% and 15%, respectively. MBDA score was an independent predictor of RP as a continuous (OR=1.05, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.08) and dichotomised variable (high versus low/moderate, OR=3.86, 95% CI 1.04 to 14.26).
In patients with eRA, the MBDA score at baseline was a strong independent predictor of 1-year RP. These results suggest that when choosing initial treatment in eRA the MBDA test may be clinically useful to identify a subgroup of patients at low risk of RP.
Trial registration number
WHO database at the Karolinska Institute: CT20080004; and clinicaltrials.gov: NCT00764725.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Disease Activity; Anti-TNF; Cytokines; Patient perspective
Objective To evaluate whether a disease activity guided strategy of dose reduction of two tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors, adalimumab or etanercept, is non-inferior in maintaining disease control in patients with rheumatoid arthritis compared with usual care.
Design Randomised controlled, open label, non-inferiority strategy trial.
Setting Two rheumatology outpatient clinics in the Netherlands, from December 2011 to May 2014.
Participants 180 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and low disease activity using adalimumab or etanercept; 121 allocated to the dose reduction strategy, 59 to usual care.
Interventions Disease activity guided dose reduction (advice to stepwise increase the injection interval every three months, until flare of disease activity or discontinuation) or usual care (no dose reduction advice). Flare was defined as increase in DAS28-CRP (a composite score measuring disease activity) greater than 1.2, or increase greater than 0.6 and current score of at least 3.2. In the case of flare, TNF inhibitor use was restarted or escalated.
Main outcome measures Difference in proportions of patients with major flare (DAS28-CRP based flare longer than three months) between the two groups at 18 months, compared against a non-inferiority margin of 20%. Secondary outcomes included TNF inhibitor use at study end, functioning, quality of life, radiographic progression, and adverse events.
Results Dose reduction of adalimumab or etanercept was non-inferior to usual care (proportion of patients with major flare at 18 months, 12% v 10%; difference 2%, 95% confidence interval −12% to 12%). In the dose reduction group, TNF inhibitor use could successfully be stopped in 20% (95% confidence interval 13% to 28%), the injection interval successfully increased in 43% (34% to 53%), but no dose reduction was possible in 37% (28% to 46%). Functional status, quality of life, relevant radiographic progression, and adverse events did not differ between the groups, although short lived flares (73% v 27%) and minimal radiographic progression (32% v 15%) were more frequent in dose reduction than usual care.
Conclusions A disease activity guided, dose reduction strategy of adalimumab or etanercept to treat rheumatoid arthritis is non-inferior to usual care with regard to major flaring, while resulting in the successful dose reduction or stopping in two thirds of patients.
Trial registration Dutch trial register (www.trialregister.nl), NTR 3216.
This study aimed to assess the utility of musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSUS) in patients with joint symptoms using a probabilistic approach.
One hundred and three patients without prior rheumatologic diagnosis and referred to our clinic for evaluation of inflammatory arthritis were included. Patients were assessed clinically including joint examination, laboratory testing including acute-phase reactants, rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti citrulinated protein antibody (ACPA), and radiographs of hands and feet if clinically indicated. A diagnostic assessment was then performed by the responsible rheumatologist where the probability of a) any inflammatory arthritis and b) rheumatoid arthritis was given on a 5-point scale ranging from 0 to 20% up to 80 to 100% probability. Subsequently, an ultrasound examination of the wrist, metacarpophalangeal (MCP), proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joints 2 to 5 in both hands, metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints 2 to 5 in both feet and any symptomatic joints was performed and the results presented to the same rheumatologist. The latter then assessed the diagnostic probabilities again, using the same scale.
The rheumatologists’ certainty for presence/absence of inflammatory arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis was increased significantly following ultrasound performance. The proportion of patient for whom diagnostic certainty for inflammatory arthritis was maximal was 33.0% before and 71.8% after musculoskeletal ultrasound (P <0.001). With regard to a diagnosis of RA, the proportions were 31.1% pre-test and 61.2% post-test (P <0.001). MSUS findings agreed with the final diagnosis in 95% of patients.
Musculoskeletal ultrasound, when added to routine rheumatologic investigation, greatly increases the diagnostic certainty in patients referred for the evaluation of inflammatory arthritis. The changes from pre-test to post-test probability quantify the diagnostic utility of musculoskeletal ultrasound in probabilistic terms.
The intense pursuit of novel therapies in rheumatoid arthritis has provided physicians with an assorted set of biologic drugs to treat patients with moderate to severe disease activity. Nine different biologic therapies are currently available: seven inhibitors of pro-inflammatory cytokines (five targeting tumor necrosis factor [TNF], one interleukin [IL]-1 and one IL-6), as well as a T- and a B-lymphocyte targeting agent. All these drugs have roughly similar efficacy profiles and are approved as first- or second-line therapy in patients who failed to respond to conventional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and in most cases for first line use in rheumatoid arthritis as well. Despite the irrefutable clinical and radiological benefits of biologic therapies, there are still low rates of patients achieving stable remission. Therefore, the quest for new and more effective biologic therapies continues and every year new drugs are tested. Simultaneously, optimal use of established agents is being studied in different ways. Recently, the approval of the first small molecule targeting intracellular pathways has opened a new chapter in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Other emerging treatment strategies include the activation of regulatory T cells as well as new cytokine-targeting therapies.
Lupus Nephritis; Systemic Lupus Erythematosus; T Cells