Objective. To determine the role of Class II HLAs in SSc patients from Italy and Spain and in SSc patients of Caucasian ancestry.
Methods. Nine hundred and forty-four SSc patients (Italy 392 patients; Spain 452 patients) and 1320 ethnically matched healthy controls (Italy 398 patients; Spain 922 patients) were genotyped up to the fourth digit by PCR with sequence-specific oligonucleotides for HLA-DRB1, DQA1 and DQB1 loci. Patients included 390 ACA-positive and 254 anti-topo I-positive subjects. Associations between SSc or SSc-specific antibodies and HLA alleles or HLA haplotypes were sought via the chi-square test after 10 000-fold permutation testing. A meta-analysis including this study cohort and other Caucasoids samples was also conducted.
Results. In both the cohorts, the strongest association was observed between the HLA-DRB1*1104 allele and SSc or anti-topo I antibodies. The HLA-DRB1*1104 -DQA1*0501 -DQB1*0301 haplotype was overrepresented in Italian [odds ratio (OR) = 2.069, 95% asymptotic CIs (CI95) 1.486, 2.881; P < 0.001] and in Spanish patients (OR = 6.707, CI95 3.974, 11.319; P < 0.001) as well as in anti-topo-positive patients: Italy (OR = 2.642, CI95 1.78, 3.924; P < 0.001) and Spain (OR = 20.625, CI95 11.536, 36.876; P < 0.001). In both the populations we also identified an additional risk allele (HLA-DQB1*03) and a protective allele (HLA-DQB1*0501) in anti-topo-positive patients. The meta-analysis showed different statistically significant associations, the most interesting being the differential association between HLA-DRB1*01 alleles and ACAs (OR = 1.724, CI95 1.482, 2.005; P < 0.001) or topo I antibodies (OR = 0.5, CI95 0.384, 0.651; P < 0.001).
Conclusions. We describe multiple robust associations between SSc and HLA Class II antigens in Caucasoids that may help to understand the genetic architecture of SSc.
systemic sclerosis; HLA; genetics; epidemiology
Objective. The value of repeated ANCA measurements among patients with an established diagnosis of ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV) remains controversial. The aim of this study was to explore whether either of the two distinct patterns of ANCA values during remission, a rise in ANCA or persistently positive ANCA, predicted future relapse.
Methods. MEDLINE and EMBASE searches were performed. Studies with at least 10 subjects with AAV from which both sensitivity and specificity of a rise in ANCA and/or persistent ANCA for future disease relapse could be calculated were included. Likelihood ratios were calculated for each study and pooled to arrive at summary estimates. I2-values were calculated as a measure of heterogeneity and meta-regression was used to explore sources of heterogeneity.
Results. Nine articles on a rise in ANCA and nine articles on persistent ANCA were included. The summary estimates for positive likelihood ratio (LR+) and negative likelihood ratio (LR−) of a rise in ANCA during remission on subsequent relapse of disease were 2.84 (95% CI 1.65, 4.90) and 0.49 (95% CI 0.27, 0.87), respectively. The summary estimates for LR+ and LR− of persistent ANCA during remission for subsequent disease relapse were 1.97 (95% CI 1.43, 2.70) and 0.73 (95% CI 0.50, 1.06), respectively. There was substantial between-study heterogeneity, which was partially explained by the frequency of ANCA measurements.
Conclusion. Among patients with AAV, a rise in or persistence of ANCA during remission is only modestly predictive of future disease relapse. There is limited use to serial ANCA measurements during disease remission to guide treatment decisions for individual patients with AAV.
vasculitis; anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies; biomarker
Objectives. To quantify the risk of cancer and compare it with that for the general population in a modern cohort of UK patients with RA and to identify risk factors for cancer among this cohort.
Methods. The study population comprised biologic-naïve RA subjects receiving non-biologic disease-modifying therapy recruited to the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register from 2002 to 2009. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) for cancers were calculated using age- and gender-specific cancer rates in the English population. Poisson regression models adjusted for age and gender using England general population data were used to determine the association of other predictors with incident malignancy.
Results. The cohort comprised 3771 individuals with RA contributing 13 315 person-years of follow-up. One hundred and eighty-two cancers were reported: 156 solid and 26 myelo- or lymphoproliferative cancers. The overall SIR was 1.28 (95% CI 1.10, 1.48). Risks of lung cancer (SIR 2.39, 95% CI 1.75, 3.19), Hodgkin lymphoma (SIR 12.82, 95% CI 4.16, 29.92) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (SIR 3.12, 95% CI 1.79, 5.07) were higher compared with the general population and risks of prostate cancer (SIR 0.35, 95% CI 0.11, 0.82) and cancers of the female genital organs (SIR 0.35, 95% CI 0.10, 0.90) were reduced. Within the cohort, cancer risk was more than 2-fold higher in current or ex-smokers than in non-smokers.
Conclusion. The overall incidence of cancer was increased in this national cohort of subjects with RA. The association of RA with certain cancers needs to be considered when studying the effects of biologic therapy, such as anti-TNF, on cancer risk.
rheumatoid arthritis; cancer; lymphoma; standardized incidence ratio
Objective. FM is a disorder of altered pain regulation and is characterized by pain, fatigue, poor sleep and psychological impairments; thus, it is classified as a central sensitivity syndrome. Female carriers of a premutation in the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene frequently have widespread musculoskeletal pain and sometimes have been diagnosed with FM, especially if they have the motor signs of fragile X-associated tremor ataxia syndrome (FXTAS). Studies suggest that FM occurs in persons with a genetic predisposition. We describe the clinical features of female FMR1 premutation carriers with symptoms of FM.
Methods. A sample of patients was selected that participated in studies at two tertiary referral academic centres on the phenotype and therapy of FXTAS.
Results. This selected sample of patients, five female premutation carriers, has FM symptoms or diagnoses and other central sensitivity syndromes.
Conclusion. Since FM affects 2–4% of the world's population and about 1 in 250 females are FMR1 carriers, a study screening females with FM for the presence of the FMR1 premutation is worthwhile. A finding of increased prevalence of FMR1 carriers among females with FM would impact the standard evaluation of FM. Presently, guidelines for FMR1 genetic testing includes early menopause, congenital intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder, tremor or ataxia, and a family history of FXTAS or fragile X syndrome. The latter is a common cause of autism and developmental delay. Such testing is important because female carriers are at risk of having a child with fragile X syndrome.
Fibromyalgia; Fragile X-associated tremor ataxia syndrome; Fragile X mental retardation 1 gene; Genetic counselling
Objectives. To explore whether helplessness, internality and depression would mediate the relationship between disease activity and functional limitations in patients with AS in a 12-month longitudinal study.
Methods. A total of 294 participants with AS meeting modified New York criteria completed clinical and psychological assessments at 6-month intervals. Psychological measures evaluated helplessness, depression and internality. Path analysis evaluated the direct and indirect effects of baseline disease activity on 12-month functional limitations via the psychological measures of helplessness, internality and depression at 6 months.
Results. Baseline disease activity demonstrated direct and indirect effects on 12-month functional limitations. Helplessness and depression, but not internality, served as mediators of the relationship between disease activity and functional limitations.
Conclusion. Higher baseline disease activity predicted greater functional limitations at 12 months through helplessness and depression. Our findings suggest that helplessness and depression may constitute future treatment targets in reducing functional limitations in patients with AS.
Ankylosing spondylitis; Disease activity; Functional limitations; Depression; Internality; Helplessness
Objectives. Cardiovascular disease remains the major cause of death in SLE. We assessed the degree to which cardiovascular risk factors (CVRFs) and disease activity were associated with 2-year changes in measures of subclinical atherosclerosis.
Methods. One hundred and eighty-seven SLE patients participating in a placebo-controlled trial of atorvastatin underwent multi-detector CT [for coronary artery calcium (CAC)] and carotid duplex [for carotid intima–media thickness (IMT) and carotid plaque] twice, 2 years apart. During the 2 years, patients were assessed every 3 months for CVRF. Both groups were combined for analysis, as atorvastatin did not differ from placebo in preventing progression of coronary calcium. We examined the correlation between these clinical measures and progression of CAC, IMT and plaque during the follow-up period.
Results. In an analysis adjusting for age, gender and ethnicity, CAC progression was positively associated with total serum cholesterol measured over the 2-year period (P = 0.04) and smoking (P = 0.003). Carotid IMT progression was associated with systolic BP (P = 0.003), high-sensitivity CRP (hsCRP) (P = 0.013) and white blood cell (WBC) count (P = 0.029). Carotid plaque progression, defined as patients without carotid plaque at baseline with subsequent development of plaque at follow-up, was associated with systolic BP (P = 0.003), WBC count (P = 0.02), physician's global assessment (P = 0.05), blood lymphocyte count (P = 0.048), urine protein (P = 0.017) and duration of SLE (P = 0.019).
Conclusion. Our data did not provide evidence of an association between measures of SLE disease activity (SLEDAI, anti-dsDNA, anti-phospholipid and treatment) and progression of subclinical atherosclerosis. Age and hypertension were associated with the progression of carotid IMT and plaque. Age, smoking and cholesterol were associated with progression of CAC.
Systemic lupus erythematosus; Helical computed tomography; Coronary artery calcium; Carotid intima–media thickness; Carotid plaque; Inflammation; Atherosclerosis; Carotid duplex; Coronary artery disease; Statins
Accompanying the increased use of biologic and non-biologic antirheumatic agents, patients with RA have been exposed to an increased risk of Pneumocystis jirovecii infection, which causes acute fulminant P. jirovecii pneumonia (PCP). Mortality in this population is higher than in HIV-infected individuals. Several guidelines and recommendations for HIV-infected individuals are available; however, such guidelines for RA patients remain less clear. Between 2006 and 2008 we encountered a clustering event of P. jirovecii infection among RA outpatients. Through our experience with this outbreak and a review of the recent medical literature regarding asymptomatic colonization and its clinical significance, transmission modes of infection and prophylaxis of PCP, we have learned the following lessons: PCP outbreaks among RA patients can occur through person-to-person transmission in outpatient facilities; asymptomatic carriers serve as reservoirs and sources of infection; and short-term prophylaxis for eradication of P. jirovecii is effective in controlling PCP outbreaks among RA outpatients.
Pneumocystis jirovecii; rheumatoid arthritis; colonization; transmission; outbreaks; prophylaxis
Objective. Patients’ beliefs regarding the cause of illness may influence treatment adherence and long-term outcome. Little is known of adolescents’ beliefs regarding the cause of JIA. This study aims to identify adolescents’ beliefs about the underlying cause of their arthritis at first presentation to the paediatric rheumatology department.
Methods. One hundred and twenty-two adolescents aged ≥11 years participating in the larger prospective Childhood Arthritis Prospective Study, an inception cohort of childhood-onset inflammatory arthritis, were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding underlying beliefs about their arthritis. The top-listed causes were identified, and associations between beliefs and characteristics of the adolescents and their arthritis were compared across the different causal beliefs.
Results. The most common causal beliefs were genetics (27.1%), the immune system (21.3%), accident or injury (15.6%) and infection (13.1%). Association between causal beliefs and gender, disease duration, International League Against Rheumatism subtype and source of referral was observed, although small numbers prevented robust statistical comparisons.
Conclusion. This first report on adolescents’ beliefs about the cause of their juvenile arthritis found the most common causal beliefs to be related to genes or the immune system. Brief assessments of adolescents’ beliefs at presentation will enable providers to modify or adapt potentially unhelpful beliefs and provide age-appropriate information regarding arthritis.
juvenile idiopathic arthritis; aetiology; illness beliefs; adolescents
Objective. This was an exploratory analysis to develop a new way of representing BILAG-2004 system scores longitudinally that would be clinically meaningful and easier to analyse in comparison with multiple categorical variables.
Methods. Data from a multicentre longitudinal study of SLE patients (the BILAG-2004 index and therapy collected at every visit) were used. External responsiveness analysis of the index suggested the possibility of using counts of systems with specified transitions in scores as a basis to analyse the system scores. Exploratory analyses with multinomial logistic regression were used to examine the appropriateness of this new method of analysing BILAG-2004 system scores. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was used to assess the performance of this approach.
Results. There were 1414 observations from 347 patients. A novel method was devised based on counts of systems with defined transitions in score (BILAG-2004 systems tally, BST). It has six components (systems with major deterioration, systems with minor deterioration, systems with persistent significant activity, systems with major improvement, systems with minor improvement and systems with persistent minimal or no activity). This was further simplified (simplified BST, sBST) into three components (systems with active/worsening disease, systems with improving disease and systems with persistent minimal or no activity). Both versions had expected associations with change in therapy. ROC curve analyses demonstrated that both versions had similar good performance characteristics (areas under the curve >0.80) in predicting increase in therapy.
Conclusion. The BST and sBST provide alternative approaches to representing BILAG-2004 disease activity longitudinally. Further validation of their use is required.
BILAG-2004; SLE; disease activity; longitudinal study; BILAG-2004 systems tally; BST; sBST
Objective. We aimed to identify the priorities for joint pain research from a large general population survey and identify characteristics associated with these priorities.
Methods. A question about research priorities was developed in collaboration with the Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre’s Research Users’ Group. The question was embedded in a postal survey to an existing cohort of adults with self-reported joint pain, aged ≥56 years, in North Staffordshire. Respondents were asked to rank their top three priorities for research. Factor mixture modelling was used to determine subgroups of priorities.
Results. In all, 1756 (88%) people responded to the survey. Of these, 1356 (77%) gave three priorities for research. Keeping active was rated the top priority by 38%, followed by research around joint replacement (9%) and diet/weight loss (9%). Two clusters of people were identified: 62% preferred lifestyle/self-management topics (e.g. keeping active, weight loss) and 38% preferred medical intervention topics (e.g. joint replacement, tablets). Those who preferred the medical options tended to be older and have hip or foot pain.
Conclusion. This study has provided population data on priorities for joint pain research expressed by a large cohort of older people who report joint pain. The most popular topics for research were linked to lifestyle and self-management opportunities. Pharmaceutical and invasive interventions, despite being common topics of research, are of less importance to these respondents than non-medical topics. Specific research questions will be generated from this study with collaboration of the patient’s group.
patient priority; joint pain; survey; logistic regression; latent class analysis; factor analysis
Objective. Treatment algorithms in RA include factors associated with poor prognosis; however, many patients remain erosion free despite years of disease. Our objective was to characterize the group of RA patients without erosions and identify its clinical predictors.
Methods. Our study was conducted within a prospective observational cohort of RA patients recruited from the outpatient practice of an academic medical centre. We studied patients with bilateral hand radiographs at cohort baseline and 2-year follow-up assessed with Sharp/van der Heijde scores (SHS). The primary outcome was erosion-free status at baseline and 2-year follow-up. We assessed baseline values of the following as potential correlates: age at RA onset, gender, RA duration, BMI, 28-joint DAS (DAS-28), CRP, anti-CCP status, tender and swollen joint counts, functional status [multidimensional HAQ (MDHAQ)], tobacco use and RA treatments. Variables with P ≤ 0.25 in the univariate analyses were assessed using backward selection in multivariable logistic regression models.
Results. Of the 271 subjects included, 21% (n = 56) were considered erosion free. Forty-six per cent (n = 26) of this group was anti-CCP positive compared with 56% (n = 121) in subjects with erosions present. Mean RA duration for erosion-free subjects was 3.9 years compared with 4.6 years in erosive subjects. Treatments for RA did not differ between the two groups. In the multivariable-adjusted analysis, significant predictors of erosion-free status were younger age at onset and shorter RA duration.
Conclusion. In our cohort, 21% of subjects were erosion free at baseline and 2 years. Few baseline clinical characteristics significantly predicted erosion-free status.
Rheumatoid arthritis; Disease progression; Prognosis
Objective. The role of the adaptive immune system has not been explored in detail compared with the innate immune system in systemic JIA (sJIA) pathogenesis. The aim of this study was to examine the phenotype of circulating peripheral blood CD4+ T-cell subpopulations in a cross-sectional study of sJIA patients during disease remission on medication and during acute flare of the disease.
Methods. Flow cytometry was used to examine the phenotype and cytokine production of IFNγ-, IL-4- and IL-17-producing CD4+ T cells in the peripheral blood of 10 sJIA patients with active disease, 9 sJIA with inactive disease, 14 JIA patients with oligoarticular onset, 10 adult control subjects and 10 age-matched control subjects. In parallel, we examined the proportion of FoxP3+ Tregs.
Results. IFNγ- and IL-17-producing CD4+ T cells and IL-17-producing CD3+CD4− T cells were present at higher proportions in the peripheral blood of sJIA patients, irrespective of their disease status. Our data also confirm the known increase of the proportions of IFNγ-producing Th1 cells with increasing age and suggest an increase with age in the IL-17-producing CD4+ T-cell population.
Conclusion. This study is the first to describe significantly higher proportions of Th1 and Th17 T helper cell subsets in the peripheral blood of sJIA patients. These proinflammatory cells may play a pathogenic role in sJIA. Our data also emphasize the importance of using paediatric age-matched control subjects when evaluating the T-cell cytokine profile in JIA.
interferon-gamma; interleukin-17; systemic JIA; peripheral blood; flow cytometry
Objective. To assess the inter-rater reliability of the BILAG2004-Pregnancy index for assessment of SLE disease activity in pregnancy.
Methods. Pregnant SLE patients were recruited from four centres and assessed separately by two raters/physicians in routine clinical practice. Disease activity was determined using the BILAG2004-Pregnancy index. Reliability was assessed using level of agreement, κ-statistics and analysis of disagreement. Major disagreement was defined as a score difference of A and C/D/E or B and D/E between the two raters, and minor disagreement was a score difference of A and B or B and C between raters.
Results. A total of 30 patients (63.3% Caucasian, 13.3% Afro-Caribbean, 16.7% South Asian) were recruited. The majority of patients had low-level disease activity according to the local rater’s assessment, and there was no grade A activity, with grade B activity present in the following systems: mucocutaneous (nine patients), musculoskeletal (two patients), cardiorespiratory (one patient) and renal (one patient). The distribution of disease activity was similar to the external rater’s assessment. Good levels of agreement (>70%) were achieved in all systems. κ-statistics were not appropriate for use in the gastrointestinal, ophthalmic, constitutional and neuropsychiatric systems, as there was minimal variation between patients but good levels of agreement otherwise. There were three major disagreements (0.1 per patient, all differences between B and D/E) and five minor disagreements (0.17 per patient).
Conclusion. The BILAG2004-Pregnancy index is reliable for assessment of disease activity in pregnant SLE patients.
BILAG2004-Pregnancy; SLE; disease activity; pregnancy; reliability
Objective. Rheumatologic disorders are associated with sleep disturbances. This study examines sleep disturbance correlates in patients with SSc.
Methods. Participants are 180 SSc patients in an observational study. At baseline, patients completed the Medical Outcomes Study Sleep measure (MOS-Sleep scale). In addition, patients were administered other patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures including the 36-item short form (SF-36), HAQ disability index (HAQ-DI), Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue (FACIT-Fatigue), Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CESD) scale and a University of California at Los Angeles Scleroderma Clinical Trial Consortium Gastrointestinal Tract Questionnaire (UCLA SCTC GIT 2.0). Descriptive statistics were assessed for six scales of MOS-Sleep and the 9-item sleep problem index (SLP-9; a composite index). We computed Spearman’s rank-order correlations between the MOS-Sleep scales and the HAQ-DI, FACIT-Fatigue, CESD, SSc-SCTC GIT 2.0 and SF-36 scales. In addition, we developed a regression model to assess predictors of SLP-9 scores. Covariates included demographics, physician variables of disease severity and patient-reported variables of worsening symptoms and the PRO measures.
Results. SSc patients reported a mean (s.d.) of 7.1 (1.73) h of sleep a night. Patients reported worse scores on four of six scales (except for snoring and sleep quantity) compared with the US general population (P < 0.001). SLP-9 was correlated with worsening pain and dyspnoea over the past 1 month, reflux scale of the UCLA SCTC GIT 2.0, CESD and FACIT-Fatigue (ρ 0.26–0.56). In the stepwise multivariate regression model, the CESD, worsening dyspnoea and reflux scale were significantly associated with SLP-9 index.
Conclusion. Sleep disturbances are common in SSc and are associated with worsening dyspnoea, depressed mood and severity of reflux symptoms.
Systemic sclerosis; Scleroderma; Sleep; Depression; Gastroesophageal reflux; Quality of life; SF-36; HAQ disability index (HAQ-DI); Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue (FACIT-Fatigue); Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CESD) scale; University of California at Los Angeles Scleroderma Clinical Trial Consortium Gastrointestinal Tract Questionnaire (UCLA SCTC GIT 2.0)
Objective. STR/ORT mice provide a well-known model for murine idiopathic OA, with histological joint lesions resembling those of human OA. This model was used to investigate protective effects of the dipeptide aspartyl-phenylalanine-1-methyl ester (Asp-Phe-OMe or aspartame) via the oral route vs a regular diet.
Methods. STR/ORT mice were housed individually and fed diets with or without Asp-Phe-OMe (4 mg/kg), after weaning at the age of 3 weeks, until 15 months of age (average of 20 animals per group). The study groups were kept blinded to the investigators, who measured food consumption and body weight and performed gait mobility tests. Radiographic scans were also performed at regular time intervals to evaluate differential radiographic anomalies associated with progress of OA in response to oral Asp-Phe-OMe therapy.
Results. The Asp-Phe-OMe-fed animals presented a pattern of significantly delayed disease onset. In addition, their muscle and bone mass were highly preserved, even at later time points after OA was established. Moreover, control animals presented a higher variability in gait motility in comparison with the Asp-Phe-OMe-fed animals, suggesting a protective effect from movement limitations associated with advanced OA.
Conclusion. Asp-Phe-OMe, given orally, delays OA in the spontaneous STR/ORT model, improves bone cortical density and muscle mass, and may contribute to a better quality of life for these diseased animals.
Osteoarthritis; Mice; Bone density; Muscle mass; Gait; Aspartame; Dipeptide aspartyl-phenylalanine-1-methyl ester; Asp-Phe-OMe
Objective. The Gout Impact Scale (GIS) is a gout-specific quality of life instrument that assesses impact of gout during an attack and impact of overall gout. The GIS has five scales and each is scored from 0 to 100 (worse health). Our objective was to assess minimally important differences (MIDs) for the GIS administered in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) assessing rilonacept vs placebo for prevention of gout flares during initiation of allopurinol therapy.
Methods. Trial subjects ( n = 83) included those with two or more gout flares (self-reported) in the past year. Of these, 73 had data for Weeks 8 vs 4 and formed the MID analysis group and were analysed irrespective of the treatment assignment. Subjects completed the GIS and seven patient-reported anchors. Subjects with a one-step change (e.g. from very poor to poor) were considered as the MID group for each anchor. The mean change in GIS scores and effect size (ES) was calculated for each anchor’s MID group. The average of these created the overall summary MID statistics for each GIS. An ES of 0.2–0.5 was considered to represent MID estimates.
Results. Trial subjects (n = 73) were males (96.0%), White (90.4%), with mean age of 50.5 years and serum uric acid of 9.0 mg/dl. The mean change score for the MID improvement group for scales ranged from −5.24 to −7.61 (0–100 scale). The ES for the MID improvement group for the four scales ranged from 0.22 to 0.38.
Conclusion. The MID estimates for GIS scales are between 5 and 8 points (0–100 scale). This information can aid in interpreting the GIS results in future gout RCTs.
Trial Registration. Clinicaltrials.gov, www.clinicaltrials.gov, NCT00610363.
Gout assessment questionnaire; Gout impact scale; Minimally important difference; Minimal clinically important differences; Rilonacept; Clinical trial design; Health-related quality of life; Health status
Objective. To investigate the effect of tocilizumab on patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in RA patients with inadequate responses to TNF inhibitors (TNFis).
Methods. In a Phase III randomized controlled trial, 489 patients received 4 or 8 mg/kg tocilizumab or placebo every 4 weeks plus MTX for 24 weeks. Mean changes from baseline over time and proportions of patients reporting improvements greater than or equal to minimum clinically important differences (MCIDs) in PROs were analyzed.
Results. At week 24, 8 mg/kg resulted in significantly greater improvements vs placebo in pain, global assessment of disease activity (P = 0.001), Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI; P < 0.0001), Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue (P = 0.0150) and Medical Outcomes Survey Short Form 36 (SF-36 v2) Physical Component Summary (PCS; P = 0.0003) scores, all greater than MCID; 4 mg/kg resulted in greater improvements in pain (P = 0.0100), HAQ-DI (P = 0.0030) and SF-36 PCS (P = 0.0020) scores. Tocilizumab-associated improvements were evident as early as week 2. At week 24, more tocilizumab-treated than control patients reported improvements greater than or equal to MCID in SF-36 domain scores and related PROs (50.9–84.9% vs 35.0–51.7%) and achieved ACR50 responses and/or Disease Activity Score 28 (DAS28) remission with PRO improvements greater than or equal to MCID (36.2–51.2% vs 10–20.7% and 10.7–37.5% vs 0.0–3.4%, respectively).
Conclusion. Tocilizumab treatment in patients with inadequate responses to TNFis resulted in rapid and sustained improvements in multiple PROs that were statistically significant and clinically meaningful, consistent with previous efficacy reports.
Trial Registration. ClinicalTrials.gov, http://clinicaltrials.gov/, NCT00106522.
rheumatoid arthritis; tocilizumab; health-related quality of life; patient-reported outcomes; randomized controlled trial
Objectives. To assess whether any benefits from adjunctive homeopathic intervention in patients with RA are due to the homeopathic consultation, homeopathic remedies or both.
Methods. Exploratory double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial conducted from January 2008 to July 2008, in patients with active stable RA receiving conventional therapy. Eighty-three participants from three secondary care UK outpatient clinics were randomized to 24 weeks of treatment with either homeopathic consultation (further randomized to individualized homeopathy, complex homeopathy or placebo) or non-homeopathic consultation (further randomized to complex homeopathy or placebo). Co-primary outcomes: ACR 20% improvement (ACR20) criteria and patient monthly global assessment (GA). Secondary outcomes: 28-joint DAS (DAS-28), tender and swollen joint count, disease severity, pain, weekly patient and physician GA and pain, and inflammatory markers.
Results. Fifty-six completed treatment phase. No significant differences were observed for either primary outcome. There was no clear effect due to remedy type. Receiving a homeopathic consultation significantly improved DAS-28 [mean difference 0.623; 95% CI 0.1860, 1.060; P = 0.005; effect size (ES) 0.70], swollen joint count (mean difference 3.04; 95% CI 1.055, 5.030; P = 0.003; ES 0.83), current pain (mean difference 9.12; 95% CI 0.521, 17.718; P = 0.038; ES 0.48), weekly pain (mean difference 6.017; 95% CI 0.140, 11.894; P = 0.045; ES 0.30), weekly patient GA (mean difference 6.260; 95% CI 0.411, 12.169; P = 0.036; ES 0.31) and negative mood (mean difference − 4.497; 95% CI −8.071, −0.923; P = 0.015; ES 0.90).
Conclusion. Homeopathic consultations but not homeopathic remedies are associated with clinically relevant benefits for patients with active but relatively stable RA.
Trial registration. Current controlled trials, http://www.controlled-trials.com/, ISRCTN09712705.
Clinical trial; Homeopathy; Rheumatoid arthritis; Consultation
Objective. Pain and body image distress are common among women with SSc, but their relative associations with reduced sexual function have not been assessed. The objective of this study was to assess the independent associations of pain and body image distress with reduced sexual function in women with SSc.
Methods. Female SSc patients completed measures of sexual function (sexual relationships subscale of the Psychosocial Adjustment to Illness Scale–Self-Report), body image dissatisfaction (Satisfaction with Appearance Scale) and pain (visual analogue scale). Multiple regression analysis was used to assess the associations of body image dissatisfaction and pain with reduced sexual function, controlling for sociodemographic and disease variables.
Results. The sample included 117 female SSc patients [33 (28.2%) diffuse; mean age 51.4 (11.9) years; mean time since diagnosis 9.1 (8.5) years]. Unadjusted analyses found that reduced sexual function was associated with pain (r = 0.44, P < 0.001), body image dissatisfaction (r = 0.35, P < 0.001) and being married (r = 0.34, P < 0.001). In multivariate linear regression, disease duration (β = 0.17, P = 0.046), pain (β = 0.29, P = 0.001) and unmarried status (β = −0.23, P = 0.006) were independently associated with reduced sexual function. Dissatisfaction with appearance was not significantly associated with reduced sexual function (β = 0.16, P = 0.067).
Conclusion. Pain is an important indicator of sexual function among women with SSc. Body image dissatisfaction was not independently associated with sexual impairment and appears to be less important factor than pain in determining sexual function. Future research should focus on isolating specific sources of pain that may be amenable to intervention in order to improve sexual function.
Systemic sclerosis; Sexual impairment; Women's health; Pain; Body image
Objectives. To determine whether there are racial/ethnic differences in the willingness of SLE patients to receive CYC or participate in clinical trials, and whether demographic, psychosocial and clinical characteristics contribute to these differences.
Methods. Data from 120 African-American and 62 white lupus patients were evaluated. Structured telephone interviews were conducted to determine treatment preferences, as well as to study characteristics and beliefs that may affect these preferences. Data were analysed using serial hierarchical multivariate logistic regression and deviances were calculated from a saturated model.
Results. Compared with their white counterparts, African-American SLE patients expressed less willingness to receive CYC (67.0% vs 84.9%, P = 0.02) if their lupus worsened. This racial/ethnic difference remained significant after adjusting for socioeconomic and psychosocial variables. Logistic regression analysis showed that African-American race [odds ratio (OR) 0.29, 95% CI 0.10, 0.80], physician trust (OR 1.05, 95% CI 1.00, 1.12) and perception of treatment effectiveness (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.22, 1.61) were the most significant determinants of willingness to receive CYC. A trend in difference by race/ethnicity was also observed in willingness to participate in a clinical trial, but this difference was not significant.
Conclusion. This study demonstrated reduced likelihood of accepting CYC in African-American lupus patients compared with white lupus patients. This racial/ethnic variation was associated with belief in medication effectiveness and trust in the medical provider, suggesting that education about therapy and improved trust can influence decision-making among SLE patients.
systemic lupus erythematosus; racial inequities; patient decision-making; patient preferences; cyclophosphamide
Objectives. This study aims to examine the utility of von Willebrand factor (vWF) as a biomarker in lcSSc, in particular the ability of vWF to predict the future development of disease manifestations in this disease.
Methods. vWFAg concentrations were measured in the serum of patients with lcSSc at baseline and at 3 years, during the QUINs trial [Prevention of Vascular Damage in Scleroderma with Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibition]. %DLCO, %KCO, %FVC, pulmonary artery pressure (PAP) estimation by echocardiography, Raynaud’s attack frequency, Raynaud’s severity, digital ulcer frequency, urinary protein excretion, estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), modified Rodnan skin score and Medsger disease activity score were also measured at baseline and 3 years.
Results. Baseline serum vWF concentrations were related to concurrent Medsger disease activity score, %DLCO, %FVC, urinary protein excretion, eGFR and PAP >30 mmHg. In logistic regression models, baseline serum vWF concentrations were able to predict the future development of elevated PAP by echocardiography (PAP >40 mmHg, P = 0.001).
Conclusions. Pulmonary artery hypertension is a life-threatening complication of lcSSc. vWF is a marker of endothelial cell activation. Raised serum concentrations of vWF in lcSSc increase the risk of developing subsequent elevation in PAP. Therefore screening patients with lcSSc for vWF may identify a group at risk of developing PAH. These patients could potentially be targeted with agents that stabilize the endothelium, e.g. statins.
vWF; von Willebrand factor; systemic sclerosis; pulmonary artery hypertension
Objective. To investigate whether advanced glycation end products (AGEs) induce the expression of IL-6 and IL-8 through the receptor for AGEs (RAGE)-activated pathways in human OA chondrocytes.
Methods. OA chondrocytes were stimulated with AGE-modified BSA (AGE-BSA). Gene expression of IL-6 and IL-8 was quantified by TaqMan assays and the production was determined using ELISAs. Immunoblotting was used to analyse the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) and the degradation of IκBα. Activation of NF-κB was determined using an ELISA. Pharmacological studies to elucidate the involved pathways were executed using transfection with small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), inhibitors of MAPKs and NF-κB.
Results. AGE-BSA induced the expression of IL-6 and IL-8 in OA chondrocytes, which was inhibited by pre-treatment with soluble RAGE (sRAGE) or RAGE knockdown by siRNAs. Treatment with SB202190 (p38-MAPK inhibitor) or PD98059 (ERK inhibitor) inhibited AGE-BSA-induced IL-6 and IL-8 expression. However, SP600125 (JNK inhibitor) had no effect on AGE-BSA-induced IL-6 expression but inhibited the expression of IL-8. Treatment with NF-κB inhibitors suppressed AGE-BSA-induced IL-6 and IL-8 expression.
Conclusions. This is the first study to demonstrate that AGEs induce the expression of IL-6 and IL-8 in OA chondrocytes. A novel finding of our studies is that in OA chondrocytes, AGE-BSA-induced expression of IL-6, but not of IL-8, was independent of the JNK pathway. Activation of NF-κB was an absolute requirement for both IL-6 and IL-8 expression. These results demonstrate that AGE-BSA-induced expression of IL-6 and IL-8 via RAGE is mediated through different MAPK signalling pathways in OA and possibly in other degenerative diseases.
Osteoarthritis; Advanced glycation end products; Receptor for advanced glycation end product; mitogen-activated protein kinases; nuclear factor-κB; Interleukin-6; Interleukin-8
Antibodies against citrullinated proteins (ACPAs) are highly specific for RA. Since the discovery of these antibodies, several of studies that focused on the presence and identity of citrullinated proteins in the joints of RA patients have been carried out. The best-known antigens that bind ACPAs are citrullinated filaggrin, Type II collagen (CII), α-enolase, fibrinogen and vimentin. This review compares citrullinated filaggrin, CII, α-enolase and fibrinogen with vimentin in their contribution to ACPA triggering, and gives an overview of the literature in which the role of citrullinated and non-citrullinated vimentin in the onset of ACPA production and the pathogenesis of RA is discussed.
Rheumatoid arthritis; Citrullinated vimentin; Citrullinated fibrinogen; Citrullinated filaggrin; Type II collagen; α-enolase; Anti-Sa; Anti-mutated citrullinated vimentin; Immune complexes
Objectives. SLC2A9 gene variants associate with serum uric acid in white populations, but little is known about African American populations. Since SLC2A9 is a transporter, gene variants may be expected to associate more closely with the fractional excretion of urate, a measure of renal tubular transport, than with serum uric acid, which is influenced by production and extrarenal clearance.
Methods. Genotypes of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) distributed across the SLC2A9 gene were obtained in the Genetic Epidemiology Network of Arteriopathy cohorts. The associations of SNPs with serum uric acid, fractional excretion of urate and urine urate-to-creatinine ratio were assessed with adjustments for age, sex, diuretic use, BMI, homocysteine and triglycerides.
Results. We identified SLC2A9 gene variants that were associated with serum uric acid in 1155 African American subjects (53 SNPs) and 1132 white subjects (63 SNPs). The most statistically significant SNPs in African American subjects (rs13113918) and white subjects (rs11723439) were in the latter half of the gene and explained 2.7 and 2.8% of the variation in serum uric acid, respectively. After adjustment for this SNP in African Americans, 0.9% of the variation in serum uric acid was explained by an SNP (rs1568318) in the first half of the gene. Unexpectedly, SLC2A9 gene variants had stronger associations with serum uric acid than with fractional excretion of urate.
Conclusions. These findings support two different loci by which SLC2A9 variants affect uric acid levels in African Americans and suggest SLC2A9 variants affect serum uric acid level via renal and extrarenal clearance.
Uric acid; Fractional excretion of urate; SLC2A9; Race; Genetic epidemiology