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1.  Safety and effectiveness of adalimumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis over 5 years of therapy in a phase 3b and subsequent postmarketing observational study 
Patients with active rheumatoid arthritis who had failed at least one disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) were treated with adalimumab (ADA) in the ReAct study with the option to continue treatment for 5 years in ReAlise. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the long-term safety and effectiveness of ADA as prescribed from the first injection in ReAct to the last observation in ReAlise.
Patients received ADA alone or in combination with DMARDs according to usual clinical care practices. Adverse events (AEs) were tabulated by five time windows after the first ADA injection. Effectiveness measures included achievement of low disease activity (LDA), defined as Simplified Disease Activity Index (SDAI) ≤11, or remission, (REM), defined as SDAI ≤3.3.
Of the 6,610 ReAct patients, 3,435 (52%) continued in ReAlise. At baseline in ReAct, mean age was 54 years, mean DAS28 was 6.0 and mean HAQ DI was 1.64. The mean treatment duration was 1,016 days, representing 18,272 patient-years (PYs) of ADA exposure. Overall incidence rates of serious AEs and serious infections were 13.8 and 2.8 events (E)/100 PYs, respectively. Serious AEs occurred most frequently in the first 6 months and deceased thereafter. Standardised mortality ratio was 0.71 (95% CI 0.57 to 0.87) and standardised incidence ratio for malignancies was 0.64 (95% CI 0.53 to 0.76). LDA was achieved by 50% and REM by 21% of patients at last observation.
Results of this large observational study of ADA in routine clinical practice were consistent with controlled trials, with no new safety concerns during a follow-up of more than 5 years. Effectiveness of ADA was maintained during long-term observation.
Trial registration
NCT00448383, NCT00234884
PMCID: PMC3979145  PMID: 24460746
3.  Adalimumab alone and in combination with disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in clinical practice: the Research in Active Rheumatoid Arthritis (ReAct) trial 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2007;66(6):732-739.
To evaluate the safety and effectiveness of adalimumab alone or in combination with standard disease‐modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Patients with active RA despite treatment with DMARDs or prior treatment with a tumour necrosis factor antagonist participated in a multicentre, open‐label clinical study of adalimumab 40 mg every other week for 12 weeks with an optional extension phase. Patients were allowed to continue with pre‐existing traditional DMARDs. Long‐term safety results are reported for all patients (4210 patient‐years (PYs) of adalimumab exposure). The observed effectiveness results at week 12 are reported using American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria.
Among the 6610 treated patients, adalimumab was generally well tolerated. Serious infections occurred in 3.1% of patients (5.5/100 PYs, including active tuberculosis, 0.5/100 PYs). Demyelinating disease (0.06%) and systemic lupus erythematosus (0.03%) were rare serious adverse events. The standardised incidence ratio of malignancy was 0.71 (95% CI 0.49 to 1.01). The standardised mortality ratio was 1.07 (95% CI 0.75 to 1.49). At week 12, 69% of patients achieved an ACR20 response, 83% a moderate, and 33% a good EULAR response. Adalimumab was effective in combination with a variety of DMARDs. The addition of adalimumab to antimalarials was comparably effective to the combination of adalimumab and methotrexate.
Considering the limitations of an open‐label study, adalimumab alone or in combination with standard DMARDs appeared to be well tolerated and effective in 6610 difficult‐to‐treat patients with active RA treated in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC1954645  PMID: 17329305
adalimumab; rheumatoid arthritis; tumour necrosis factor; monoclonal antibody; antirheumatic agents
4.  Improvements in health-related quality of life after treatment with tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis refractory to tumour necrosis factor inhibitors: results from the 24-week randomized controlled RADIATE study 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2012;51(10):1860-1869.
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.,, NCT00106522.
PMCID: PMC3448882  PMID: 22753773
rheumatoid arthritis; tocilizumab; health-related quality of life; patient-reported outcomes; randomized controlled trial
5.  The 2010 American College of Rheumatology/European League Against Rheumatism Classification Criteria for Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(9):2582-2591.
The American College of Rheumatology and the European League Against Rheumatism have developed new classification criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The aim of Phase 2 of the development process was to achieve expert consensus on the clinical and laboratory variables that should contribute to the final criteria set.
Twenty-four expert RA clinicians (12 from Europe and 12 from North America) participated in Phase 2. A consensus-based decision analysis approach was used to identify factors (and their relative weights) that influence the probability of “developing RA,” complemented by data from the Phase 1 study. Patient case scenarios were used to identify and reach consensus on factors important in determining the probability of RA development. Decision analytic software was used to derive the relative weights for each of the factors and their categories, using choice-based conjoint analysis.
The expert panel agreed that the new classification criteria should be applied to individuals with undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis in whom at least 1 joint is deemed by an expert assessor to be swollen, indicating definite synovitis. In this clinical setting, they identified 4 additional criteria as being important: number of joints involved and site of involvement, serologic abnormality, acute-phase response, and duration of symptoms in the involved joints. These criteria were consistent with those identified in the Phase 1 data-driven approach.
The consensus-based, decision analysis approach used in Phase 2 complemented the Phase 1 efforts. The 4 criteria and their relative weights form the basis of the final criteria set.
PMCID: PMC3077961  PMID: 20872596
6.  Certolizumab pegol plus methotrexate provides broad relief from the burden of rheumatoid arthritis: analysis of patient-reported outcomes from the RAPID 2 trial 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;70(6):996-1002.
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
PMCID: PMC3086050  PMID: 21415050
7.  Effectiveness and safety of the interleukin 6-receptor antagonist tocilizumab after 4 and 24 weeks in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis: the first phase IIIb real-life study (TAMARA) 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2010;70(5):755-759.
To confirm the effectiveness and safety of the interleukin 6-receptor antagonist tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in a setting close to real-life medical care in Germany.
A multicentre open-label phase IIIb study was undertaken. Patients with active RA with a 28-joint Disease Activity Score (DAS28) >3.2 despite previous disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) were treated with tocilizumab 8 mg/kg every 4 weeks. The primary end point was the proportion of patients achieving LDAS ≤3.2 at week 24; secondary end points included American College of Rheumatology (ACR), European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) or Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI) responses and decrease in acute phase. Analyses in subgroups such as rheumatoid factor (RF)-positive versus RF-negative patients and patients with an inadequate response to treatment with DMARDs (DMARD-IR) versus those with an inadequate response to tumour necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists (TNF antagonist-IR) were performed. Safety was assessed by adverse event documentation.
286 patients were treated and 83.6% completed the study. 41.6% had previously been treated with TNF antagonists. 57% of the intention-to-treat patients achieved the primary end point of LDAS, 47.6% achieved DAS remission <2.6 and a EULAR ‘good response’ was achieved by 54.9%; ACR50/70 response rates at week 24 were 50.7% and 33.9%, respectively. The mean±SD decrease in CDAI from baseline to week 24 was 71±29%. C reactive protein levels normalised rapidly within 1 week. Major improvements in fatigue, pain and morning stiffness were observed in the first 4 weeks and further improved until week 24. DAS28, EULAR and ACR responses at week 24 did not differ between RF-positive and RF-negative patients. TNF antagonist-naive patients responded better than patients who had previously failed on TNF antagonists. The safety profile of tocilizumab was comparable to that previously observed in the phase III trial programme. Serious infections were observed in 3.1% of patients.
Tocilizumab is highly effective in a setting close to real-life medical care with a rapid and sustained improvement in signs and symptoms of RA. A manageable safety profile was seen over the 24-week study period.
PMCID: PMC3070275  PMID: 21187298
8.  Immediate determination of ACPA and rheumatoid factor - a novel point of care test for detection of anti-MCV antibodies and rheumatoid factor using a lateral-flow immunoassay 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(3):R120.
Autoantibodies against mutated and citrullinated vimentin (MCV) represent a novel diagnostic marker for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recently, an increased sensitivity for anti-MCV compared to autoantibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptides (anti-CCP2) was shown in cohorts of patients with early RA and established disease.
The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate a point of care test (POCT) for detection of anti-MCV antibodies immediately at the first visit or at the bed side.
A lateral-flow immunoassay was developed for simultaneous detection of anti-MCV antibodies and rheumatoid factor (RF-IgG) and evaluated in a prospective setting. Analyses were performed from whole blood samples of patients with seropositive RA (n = 108), seronegative RA as well as other rheumatic disorders (n = 122), and healthy blood donors (n = 200) and compared to detection via ELISA.
Using the POCT, anti-MCV antibodies were detected in 54.6% and RF-IgG in 56.5% of patients with RA. Specificity was 99.1% for anti-MCV antibodies and 91.2% for RF-IgG. Compared to ELISA's results, POCT sensitivity was 69.3% for anti-MCV and 55.6% for RF-IgG, specificity was 99.7% and 97.2%, respectively.
This POCT for detection of anti-MCV antibodies and RF-IgG provides high specificity for the diagnosis of RA and is useful in clinical practice due to its simplicity and its reliable performance. This test can greatly improve a timely management of RA and may help in screening patients with suspected RA in non-specialized settings prompting early referrals.
PMCID: PMC2911914  PMID: 20569500
9.  Rapid and sustained improvements in health-related quality of life, fatigue, and other patient-reported outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with certolizumab pegol plus methotrexate over 1 year: results from the RAPID 1 randomized controlled trial 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(6):R170.
The objective of this study was to assess the impact of certolizumab pegol (CZP) treatment on health-related quality of life (HRQoL), fatigue and other patient-reported outcomes (PROs) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Patients with active RA (N = 982) were randomized 2:2:1 to subcutaneous CZP (400 mg at weeks 0, 2 and 4; followed by CZP 200 mg or 400 mg) plus methotrexate (MTX) every other week, or placebo (PBO) plus MTX. PRO assessments included HRQoL, fatigue, physical function, arthritis pain and disease activity. Adjusted mean changes from baseline in all PROs were obtained using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) applying last observation carried forward (LOCF) imputation. The proportion of patients achieving clinically meaningful improvements in each PRO was obtained using logistic regression and by applying non-responder imputation to missing values after rescue medication or withdrawal. The correlations between PRO responses and clinical responses were also assessed by tetrachoric correlation using non-responder imputation.
Patients treated with CZP plus MTX reported significant (P < 0.001), clinically meaningful improvements in HRQoL at the first assessment (week 12); reductions in fatigue, disease activity and pain and improvements in physical function were reported at week 1. In particular, CZP-treated patients reported improvements in mental health. Mean changes from baseline in the SF-36 Mental Component Summary (MCS) at week 52 for CZP 200 mg and 400 mg plus MTX, and PBO plus MTX were 6.4, 6.4 and 2.1, respectively (P < 0.001). In addition, mental health and vitality scores in CZP-treated patients approached age- and gender-adjusted US population norms. Improvements in all PROs were sustained. Similar benefits were reported with both CZP doses. Changes in SF-36 MCS scores had the lowest correlation with disease activity scores (DAS28) and American College of Rheumatology 20% improvement (ACR20) response rates, while improvements in pain showed the highest correlation.
Treatment with CZP plus MTX resulted in rapid and sustained improvements in all PROs, indicating that the benefits of CZP extend beyond clinical efficacy endpoints into areas that are more relevant and meaningful for patients on a daily basis.
Trial Registration NCT00152386.
PMCID: PMC3003523  PMID: 19909548
10.  SiPaGene: A new repository for instant online retrieval, sharing and meta-analyses of GeneChip® expression data 
BMC Genomics  2009;10:98.
Microarray expression profiling is becoming a routine technology for medical research and generates enormous amounts of data. However, reanalysis of public data and comparison with own results is laborious. Although many different tools exist, there is a need for more convenience and online analysis with restriction of access and user specific sharing options. Furthermore, most of the currently existing tools do not use the whole range of statistical power provided by the MAS5.0/GCOS algorithms.
With a current focus on immunology, infection, inflammation, tissue regeneration and cancer we developed a database platform that can load preprocessed Affymetrix GeneChip expression data for immediate access. Group or subgroup comparisons can be calculated online, retrieved for candidate genes, transcriptional activity in various biological conditions and compared with different experiments. The system is based on Oracle 9i with algorithms in java and graphical user interfaces implemented as java servlets. Signals, detection calls, signal log ratios, change calls and corresponding p-values were calculated with MAS5.0/GCOS algorithms. MIAME information and gene annotations are provided via links to GEO and EntrezGene. Users access via https protocol their own, shared or public data. Sharing is comparison- and user-specific with different levels of rights. Arrays for group comparisons can be selected individually. Twenty-two different group comparison parameters can be applied in user-defined combinations on single or multiple group comparisons. Identified genes can be reviewed online or downloaded. Optimized selection criteria were developed and reliability was demonstrated with the "Latin Square" data set. Currently more than 1,000 arrays, 10,000 pairwise comparisons and 500 group comparisons are presented with public or restricted access by different research networks or individual users.
SiPaGene is a repository and a high quality tool for primary analysis of GeneChips. It exploits the MAS5.0/GCOS pairwise comparison algorithm, enables restricted access and user specific sharing. It does not aim for a complete representation of all public arrays but for high quality analysis with stepwise integration of reference signatures for detailed meta-analyses. Development of additional tools like functional annotation networks based on expression information will be future steps towards a systematic biological analysis of expression profiles.
PMCID: PMC2657156  PMID: 19265543
11.  An open-label pilot study of the effectiveness of adalimumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and previous infliximab treatment: relationship to reasons for failure and anti-infliximab antibody status 
Clinical Rheumatology  2008;27(8):1021-1028.
This prospective open-label pilot study evaluated the effectiveness and safety of adalimumab and the relationship to antibodies against infliximab (IFX) in adult patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who had been treated previously with IFX and experienced treatment failure owing to lack or loss of response or intolerance. Patients self-administered adalimumab 40 mg subcutaneously every other week for 16 weeks, followed by maintenance therapy for up to Week 56. Measures of effectiveness included American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria, 28-joint Disease Activity Score, and the Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index. Serum IFX concentrations, human antichimeric antibody against IFX (HACA), adalimumab serum concentrations, antiadalimumab antibody, and safety also were assessed. Of the 41 enrolled patients, 37 completed 16 weeks and 30 completed 56 weeks of treatment. Patients experienced clinically meaningful improvements in all measures of RA activity, with greater response rates observed for patients who had experienced loss of initial response to or intolerance of IFX. At Week 16, 46% of patients achieved an ACR20 and 28% achieved an ACR50; 61% achieved an at least moderate and 17% achieved a good EULAR response. Clinical benefit was maintained through Week 56 in all effectiveness parameters. Baseline HACA status did not significantly impact effectiveness. No new safety signals were observed; neither former IFX intolerance status nor baseline HACA status had a clinically relevant impact on adverse event frequency or severity. Adalimumab was effective and well-tolerated in patients with RA who previously failed IFX therapy, irrespective of reason for discontinuation and of HACA status.
PMCID: PMC2468311  PMID: 18350329
Adalimumab; Infliximab; Rheumatoid arthritis; Treatment failure; Tumor necrosis factor antagonist
12.  Cardiovascular disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: results from the QUEST-RA study 
We analyzed the prevalence of cardiovascular (CV) disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and its association with traditional CV risk factors, clinical features of RA, and the use of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) in a multinational cross-sectional cohort of nonselected consecutive outpatients with RA (The Questionnaires in Standard Monitoring of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis Program, or QUEST-RA) who were receiving regular clinical care.
The study involved a clinical assessment by a rheumatologist and a self-report questionnaire by patients. The clinical assessment included a review of clinical features of RA and exposure to DMARDs over the course of RA. Comorbidities were recorded; CV morbidity included myocardial infarction, angina, coronary disease, coronary bypass surgery, and stroke. Traditional risk factors recorded were hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus, smoking, physical inactivity, and body mass index. Unadjusted and adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) (95% confidence interval [CI]) for CV morbidity were calculated using Cox proportional hazard regression models.
Between January 2005 and October 2006, the QUEST-RA project included 4,363 patients from 48 sites in 15 countries; 78% were female, more than 90% were Caucasian, and the mean age was 57 years. The prevalence for lifetime CV events in the entire sample was 3.2% for myocardial infarction, 1.9% for stroke, and 9.3% for any CV event. The prevalence for CV risk factors was 32% for hypertension, 14% for hyperlipidemia, 8% for diabetes, 43% for ever-smoking, 73% for physical inactivity, and 18% for obesity. Traditional risk factors except obesity and physical inactivity were significantly associated with CV morbidity. There was an association between any CV event and age and male gender and between extra-articular disease and myocardial infarction. Prolonged exposure to methotrexate (HR 0.85; 95% CI 0.81 to 0.89), leflunomide (HR 0.59; 95% CI 0.43 to 0.79), sulfasalazine (HR 0.92; 95% CI 0.87 to 0.98), glucocorticoids (HR 0.95; 95% CI 0.92 to 0.98), and biologic agents (HR 0.42; 95% CI 0.21 to 0.81; P < 0.05) was associated with a reduction of the risk of CV morbidity; analyses were adjusted for traditional risk factors and countries.
In conclusion, prolonged use of treatments such as methotrexate, sulfasalazine, leflunomide, glucocorticoids, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha blockers appears to be associated with a reduced risk of CV disease. In addition to traditional risk factors, extra-articular disease was associated with the occurrence of myocardial infarction in patients with RA.
PMCID: PMC2453774  PMID: 18325087
13.  Treatment of posttraumatic and focal osteoarthritic cartilage defects of the knee with autologous polymer-based three-dimensional chondrocyte grafts: 2-year clinical results 
Autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI) is an effective clinical procedure for the regeneration of articular cartilage defects. BioSeed®-C is a second-generation ACI tissue engineering cartilage graft that is based on autologous chondrocytes embedded in a three-dimensional bioresorbable two-component gel-polymer scaffold. In the present prospective study, we evaluated the short-term to mid-term efficacy of BioSeed-C for the arthrotomic and arthroscopic treatment of posttraumatic and degenerative cartilage defects in a group of patients suffering from chronic posttraumatic and/or degenerative cartilage lesions of the knee. Clinical outcome was assessed in 40 patients with a 2-year clinical follow-up before implantation and at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months after implantation by using the modified Cincinnati Knee Rating System, the Lysholm score, the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score, and the current health assessment form (SF-36) of the International Knee Documentation Committee, as well as histological analysis of second-look biopsies. Significant improvement (p < 0.05) in the evaluated scores was observed at 1 and/or 2 years after implantation of BioSeed-C, and histological staining of the biopsies showed good integration of the graft and formation of a cartilaginous repair tissue. The Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score showed significant improvement in the subclasses pain, other symptoms, and knee-related quality of life 2 years after implantation of BioSeed-C in focal osteoarthritic defects. The results suggest that implanting BioSeed-C is an effective treatment option for the regeneration of posttraumatic and/or osteoarthritic defects of the knee.
PMCID: PMC1906819  PMID: 17451597
14.  Epratuzumab (humanised anti-CD22 antibody) in primary Sjögren's syndrome: an open-label phase I/II study 
This open-label, phase I/II study investigated the safety and efficacy of epratuzumab, a humanised anti-CD22 monoclonal antibody, in the treatment of patients with active primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS). Sixteen Caucasian patients (14 females/2 males, 33–72 years) were to receive 4 infusions of 360 mg/m2 epratuzumab once every 2 weeks, with 6 months of follow-up. A composite endpoint involving the Schirmer-I test, unstimulated whole salivary flow, fatigue, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and immunoglobulin G (IgG) was devised to provide a clinically meaningful assessment of response, defined as a ≥20% improvement in at least two of the aforementioned parameters, with ≥20% reduction in ESR and/or IgG considered as a single combined criterion. Fourteen patients received all infusions without significant reactions, 1 patient received 3, and another was discontinued due to a mild acute reaction after receiving a partial infusion. Three patients showed moderately elevated levels of Human anti-human (epratuzumab) antibody not associated with clinical manifestations. B-cell levels had mean reductions of 54% and 39% at 6 and 18 weeks, respectively, but T-cell levels, immunoglobulins, and routine safety laboratory tests did not change significantly. Fifty-three percent achieved a clinical response (at ≥20% improvement level) at 6 weeks, with 53%, 47%, and 67% responding at 10, 18, and 32 weeks, respectively. Approximately 40%–50% responded at the ≥30% level, while 10%–45% responded at the ≥50% level for 10–32 weeks. Additionally, statistically significant improvements were observed in fatigue, and patient and physician global assessments. Further, we determined that pSS patients have a CD22 over-expression in their peripheral B cells, which was downregulated by epratuzumab for at least 12 weeks after the therapy. Thus, epratuzumab appears to be a promising therapy in active pSS, suggesting that further studies be conducted.
PMCID: PMC1779377  PMID: 16859536
15.  Initial clinical trial of epratuzumab (humanized anti-CD22 antibody) for immunotherapy of systemic lupus erythematosus 
B cells play an important role in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), so the safety and activity of anti-B cell immunotherapy with the humanized anti-CD22 antibody epratuzumab was evaluated in SLE patients. An open-label, single-center study of 14 patients with moderately active SLE (total British Isles Lupus Assessment Group (BILAG) score 6 to 12) was conducted. Patients received 360 mg/m2 epratuzumab intravenously every 2 weeks for 4 doses with analgesic/antihistamine premedication (but no steroids) prior to each dose. Evaluations at 6, 10, 18 and 32 weeks (6 months post-treatment) follow-up included safety, SLE activity (BILAG score), blood levels of epratuzumab, B and T cells, immunoglobulins, and human anti-epratuzumab antibody (HAHA) titers. Total BILAG scores decreased by ≥ 50% in all 14 patients at some point during the study (including 77% with a ≥ 50% decrease at 6 weeks), with 92% having decreases of various amounts continuing to at least 18 weeks (where 38% showed a ≥ 50% decrease). Almost all patients (93%) experienced improvements in at least one BILAG B- or C-level disease activity at 6, 10 and 18 weeks. Additionally, 3 patients with multiple BILAG B involvement at baseline had completely resolved all B-level disease activities by 18 weeks. Epratuzumab was well tolerated, with a median infusion time of 32 minutes. Drug serum levels were measurable for at least 4 weeks post-treatment and detectable in most samples at 18 weeks. B cell levels decreased by an average of 35% at 18 weeks and remained depressed at 6 months post-treatment. Changes in routine safety laboratory tests were infrequent and without any consistent pattern, and there was no evidence of immunogenicity or significant changes in T cells, immunoglobulins, or autoantibody levels. In patients with mild to moderate active lupus, 360 mg/m2 epratuzumab was well tolerated, with evidence of clinical improvement after the first infusion and durable clinical benefit across most body systems. As such, multicenter controlled studies are being conducted in broader patient populations.
PMCID: PMC1526638  PMID: 16630358
16.  Detailed analysis of the variability of peptidylarginine deiminase type 4 in German patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a case–control study 
Peptidylarginine deiminase type 4 (PADI4) genotypes were shown to influence susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the Japanese population. Such an association could not previously be confirmed in different European populations. In the present study, we analysed exons 2–4 of PADI4 in 102 German RA patients and 102 healthy individuals to study the influence of PADI4 variability on RA susceptibility by means of haplotype-specific DNA sequencing. Analyses of the influence of PADI4 and HLA-DRB1 genotypes on disease activity and on levels of anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies were performed.
Comparing the frequencies of PADI4 haplotype 4 (padi4_89*G, padi4_90*T, padi4_92*G, padi4_94*T, padi4_104*C, padi4_95*G, padi4_96*T) (patients, 14.7%; controls, 7.8%; odds ratio = 2.0, 95% confidence interval = 1.1–3.8) and carriers of this haplotype (patients, 27.5%; controls, 13.7%; odds ratio = 2.4, 95% confidence interval = 1.2–4.8), a significant positive association of PADI4 haplotype 4 with RA could be demonstrated. Other PADI4 haplotypes did not differ significantly between patients and controls. Regarding the individual PADI4 variants, padi4_89 (A→G), padi4_90 (C→T), and padi4_94 (C→T) were significantly associated with RA (patients, 49.5%; controls, 38.7%; odds ratio = 1.6, 95% confidence interval = 1.1–2.3). Considering novel PADI4 variants located in or near to exons 2, 3, and 4, no quantitative or qualitative differences between RA patients (8.8%) and healthy controls (10.8%) could be demonstrated. While the PADI4 genotype did not influence disease activity and the anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody level, the presence of the HLA-DRB1 shared epitope was significantly associated with higher anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody levels (P = 0.033).
The results of this small case–control study support the hypothesis that variability of the PADI4 gene may influence susceptibility to RA in the German population. Quantitative or qualitative differences in previously undefined PADI4 variants between patients and controls could not be demonstrated.
PMCID: PMC1526594  PMID: 16469113
17.  Perspectives and limitations of gene expression profiling in rheumatology: new molecular strategies 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;6(4):140-146.
The deciphering of the sequence of the human genome has raised the expectation of unravelling the specific role of each gene in physiology and pathology. High-throughput technologies for gene expression profiling provide the first practical basis for applying this information. In rheumatology, with its many diseases of unknown pathogenesis and puzzling inflammatory aspects, these advances appear to promise a significant advance towards the identification of leading mechanisms of pathology. Expression patterns reflect the complexity of the molecular processes and are expected to provide the molecular basis for specific diagnosis, therapeutic stratification, long-term monitoring and prognostic evaluation. Identification of the molecular networks will help in the discovery of appropriate drug targets, and permit focusing on the most effective and least toxic compounds. Current limitations in screening technologies, experimental strategies and bioinformatic interpretation will shortly be overcome by the rapid development in this field. However, gene expression profiling, by its nature, will not provide biochemical information on functional activities of proteins and might only in part reflect underlying genetic dysfunction. Genomic and proteomic technologies will therefore be complementary in their scientific and clinical application.
PMCID: PMC464885  PMID: 15225356
expression profiling; genomics; molecular strategies; pathway models; signatures
18.  Analysis of immunoglobulin light chain rearrangements in the salivary gland and blood of a patient with Sjögren's syndrome 
Arthritis Research  2002;4(4):R4.
Patients with Sjögren's syndrome (SS) have characteristic lymphocytic infiltrates of the salivary glands. To determine whether the B cells accumulating in the salivary glands of SS patients represent a distinct population and to delineate their potential immunopathologic impact, individual B cells obtained from the parotid gland and from the peripheral blood were analyzed for immunglobulin light chain gene rearrangements by PCR amplification of genomic DNA. The productive immunglobulin light chain repertoire in the parotid gland of the SS patient was found to be restricted, showing a preferential usage of particular variable lambda chain genes (Vλ2E) and variable kappa chain genes (VκA27). Moreover, clonally related VL chain rearrangements were identified; namely, VκA27–Jκ5 and VκA19–Jκ2 in the parotid gland, and Vλ1C–Jλ3 in the parotid gland and the peripheral blood. Vκ and Vλ rearrangements from the parotid gland exhibited a significantly elevated mutational frequency compared with those from the peripheral blood (P < 0.001). Mutational analysis revealed a pattern of somatic hypermutation similar to that found in normal donors, and a comparable impact of selection of mutated rearrangements in both the peripheral blood and the parotid gland. These data indicate that there is biased usage of VL chain genes caused by selection and clonal expansion of B cells expressing particular VL genes. In addition, the data document an accumulation of B cells bearing mutated VL gene rearrangements within the parotid gland of the SS patient. These results suggest a role of antigen-activated and selected B cells in the local autoimmune process in SS.
PMCID: PMC125296  PMID: 12106503
B cells; parotid gland; Sjögren's syndrome; somatic mutation; V light chain genes
19.  Rapid Typing of Borrelia burgdorferi Sensu Lato Species in Specimens from Patients with Different Manifestations of Lyme Borreliosis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(3):1130-1133.
To further investigate the pathogenic potential of different Borrelia burgdorferi genospecies, specimens from 27 patients with different manifestations of Lyme borreliosis were analyzed by PCR and reverse line blotting (RLB). In samples from Lyme arthritis patients, B. burgdorferi sensu stricto was predominantly identified, while in patients with neuroborreliosis or acrodermatitis, Borrelia garinii and Borrelia afzelii, respectively, were exclusively detected. The results demonstrate that PCR-RLB is a valuable tool for epidemiological and pathogenetic studies of Lyme borreliosis.
PMCID: PMC87886  PMID: 11230440
20.  Emerging strategies of bone and joint repair 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(6):433-436.
The advances in biomedicine over the past decade have provided revolutionary insights into molecules that mediate cell proliferation and differentiation. Findings on the complex interplay of cells, growth factors, matrix molecules and cell adhesion molecules in the process of tissue patterning have vitalized the revolutionary approach of bioregenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Here we review the impact of recent work in this interdisciplinary field on the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. This novel concept combines the transplantation of pluripotent stem cells, and the use of specifically tailored biomaterials, arrays of bioactive molecules and gene transfer technologies to direct the regeneration of pathologically altered musculoskeletal tissues.
PMCID: PMC128870  PMID: 11094454
biomaterials; genetic engineering; morphogenic factors; tissue engineering
21.  Autologous stem-cell transplantation in refractory autoimmune diseases after in vivo immunoablation and ex vivo depletion of mononuclear cells 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(4):327-336.
Autoimmune diseases that are resistant to conventional treatment cause severe morbidity and even mortality. In the present study we demonstrate that complete remissions can be achieved in refractory polychondritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), even at advanced stage, with the use of autologous stem-cell transplantation (SCT). Remissions persisted after reconstitution of the immune system. In the treatment of advanced systemic sclerosis (SSc), stable disease may be achieved with autologous SCT.
Patients with persistently active autoimmune diseases are considered to be candidates for autologous SCT. We performed a phase 1/2 study in a limited number of patients who were refractory to conventional immunosuppressive treatment. Following a period of uncontrolled disease activity for at least 6 months, autologous SCT was performed, after in vivo immunoablation and ex vivo depletion of mononuclear cells.
To investigate feasibility, toxicity and efficacy of the treatment, and the incidence of emergent infections.
Seven patients (aged between 23 and 48 years) were included in the single-centre trial: one had relapsing polychondritis, three had treatment-refractory SLE and three patients had SSc. Stem-cell mobilization was achieved by treatment with moderate-dose cyclophosphamide (2 g/m2; in terms of myelotoxic side effects or myelosuppression) and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF). CD34- cells of the leukapheresis products were removed by high-gradient magnetic cell sorting. After stem-cell collection, immunoablation was performed with high-dose cyclophosphamide (200 mg/kg body weight) and antithymocyte globulin (ATG; 90 mg/kg body weight). Autologous SCT was followed by reconstitution of the immune system, which was monitored by six-parameter flow cytometry and standard serology. The trial fulfilled the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) and the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) guidelines for blood and bone marrow stem-cell transplants in autoimmune disease.
Among the seven patients studied, the patient with relapsing polychondritis and the patients with SLE were successfully treated and remained in complete remission during a follow up of 10-21 months. Remission persisted despite reconstitution of the immune system, resulting in high numbers of effector-/memory-type T-helper lymphocytes and increasing populations in the naïve T-cell compartment. Before autologous SCT, one of the patients with SLE had a long-lasting secondary antiphospholipid syndrome, with high anticardiolipin antibodies and thromboembolic events. After autologous SCT the antiphospholipid antibodies became negative, and no thrombosis occurred during follow up. Two of the patients with SSc were unaffected by treatment with autologous SCT for 6 or 13 months. The other patient with SSc died 2 days after autologous SCT because of cardiac failure.
During stem-cell mobilization with G-CSF, flares of autoimmune disease were seen in the patient with polychondritis and in one patient with SLE. The strategy utilized for depletion of CD34- cells led to a reduction by 4.5-5 log of contaminating CD3+ cells in the transplant. T-cell add-back was required in the patient with polychondritis and in one patient with SLE to provide a dose of 1×104 CD3+ cells/kg body weight for the transplant.
In vivo immunoablation in combination with autologous SCT after ex vivo depletion of CD34- cells can block the autoimmune process in relapsing polychondritis or SLE without incidence of severe infections. The remissions were achieved in patients with advanced disease that was refractory to previous intensive immunosuppressive therapy. The present results do not indicate that large-scale contamination of the stem-cell transplant with autoreactive cells after selection for CD34+cells occurred. After the preparative regimen, the application of G-CSF was avoided, because induction of flares of the autoimmune disease were noticed during the mobilization of stem cells. In SSc patients, distinct remissions were not observable after autologous SCT; the serological and clinical status did not improve. Follow-up periods of more than 12 months may be required to identify successful treatment with autologous SCT in SSc patients. Among the various autoimmune diseases the efficacy of autologous SCT appears to be dependent on the underlying pathophysiology. The results of the present phase 1/2 study suggest that patients with advanced stage SSc should not be treated with autologous SCT, until the reasons for the lack of response and the possible mortality due to cardiac complications are identified. The observation of flares of autoimmune disease after application of G-CSF emphasizes the need for critical evaluation of the role of G-CSF in immunoablative regimens.
PMCID: PMC17815  PMID: 11056673
autologous stem-cell transplantation; polychondritis; refractory autoimmune disease; systemic lupus erythematosus; systemic sclerosis
22.  Mavrilimumab, a human monoclonal antibody targeting GM-CSF receptor-α, in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase I, first-in-human study 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;70(9):1542-1549.
To evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles of mavrilimumab, a human monoclonal antibody targeting the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor-α, in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-escalating phase I study in subjects with RA who received stable methotrexate treatment for ≥3 months before enrolment. Subjects received single intravenous escalating doses of mavrilimumab (0.01–10.0 mg/kg) or placebo.
32 subjects were enrolled in this study (1 unblinded subject at 0.01 mg/kg and another at 0.03 mg/kg were followed by five sequential double-blinded cohorts, n=6 each, treated with 0.1, 0.3, 1.0, 3.0 and 10.0 mg/kg, respectively). Adverse events were mild or moderate and were reported with similar frequency across all treatment cohorts. One subject (10.0 mg/kg) experienced moderate face and neck urticaria during infusion that resolved with symptomatic treatment. Systemic clearance of mavrilimumab approached that of endogenous IgG at doses >1.0 mg/kg; pharmacodynamic activity was confirmed in the 1.0 and 3.0 mg/kg cohorts by suppression of suppressor of cytokine signalling 3 mRNA transcripts. In exploratory analyses, reductions of acute phase reactants were observed in subjects with elevated C-reactive protein (>5 mg/l) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (≥20.0 mm/h) at baseline. No significant change in Disease Activity Score 28-joint assessment (DAS28) was seen in any of the cohorts. In mavrilimumab-treated subjects (n=15) with baseline DAS28 >3.2, mean disease activity (DAS28) was significantly reduced at 4 weeks.
In this first-in-human study, mavrilimumab showed preliminary evidence of pharmacodynamic activity. Importantly, the safety and pharmacokinetic profiles of mavrilimumab support further clinical studies in RA.
Trial registration number: NCT00771420.
PMCID: PMC3147227  PMID: 21613310
23.  Performance of the new 2011 ACR/EULAR remission criteria with tocilizumab using the phase IIIb study TAMARA as an example and their comparison with traditional remission criteria 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;70(11):1986-1990.
Remission is the established goal in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment. Although originally defined by a disease activity score in 28 joints (DAS28) <2.6, more stringent criteria may imply the absence of disease activity. The 2011 ACR/EULAR remission criteria provide the newest and most stringent definition of remission.
To evaluate post hoc the remission by ACR/EULAR criteria and compare the criteria with the conventional DAS28 in TAMARA, an open-label phase IIIb tocilizumab (TCZ) trial including patients with active RA receiving inadequate disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) inhibitor treatment.
286 patients were enrolled, 99.7% of patients were receiving a conventional DMARD and 41.6% had TNFα inhibitor pretreatment. Baseline mean DAS28 of 6.0 ± 1.0 fell to 2.6 ± 1.5 at week 24. DAS28 <2.6 was achieved by 47.6% at week 24. Remission rates with the new ACR/EULAR Boolean-based criteria for clinical studies were 15.0% after 12 weeks and 20.3% after 24 weeks. Of note, 13.5% of patients with previous TNFα blocker inadequate response still achieved remission according to the new ACR/EULAR criteria after 24 weeks. Clinical Disease Activity Index and Simplified Disease Activity Index remission rates were 24.1% and 25.2%, respectively.
Under the definition of the new stringent 2011 ACR/EULAR remission criteria, patients with active RA despite DMARD treatment and even after inadequate response to TNFα inhibitors, receiving TCZ showed significant rates of remission. Similar remission rates were achieved, when clinical practice criteria, not inclusive of acute phase reactants, were used.
PMCID: PMC3184242  PMID: 21875873
24.  Inflammation assessment in patients with arthritis using a novel in vivo fluorescence optical imaging technology 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2011;71(4):504-510.
Indocyanine green (ICG)-enhanced fluorescence optical imaging (FOI) is an established technology for imaging of inflammation in animal models. In experimental models of arthritis, FOI findings corresponded to histologically proven synovitis. This is the first comparative study of FOI with other imaging modalities in humans with arthritis.
252 FOI examinations (Xiralite system, mivenion GmbH, Berlin, Germany; ICG bolus of 0.1 mg/kg/body weight, sequence of 360 images, one image per second) were compared with clinical examination (CE), ultrasonography (US) and MRI of patients with arthritis of the hands.
In an FOI sequence, three phases could be distinguished (P1–P3). With MRI as reference, FOI had a sensitivity of 76% and a specificity of 54%, while the specificity of phase 1 was 94%. FOI had agreement rates up to 88% versus CE, 64% versus greyscale US, 88% versus power Doppler US and 83% versus MRI, depending on the compared phase and parameter. FOI showed a higher rate of positive results compared to CE, US and MRI. In individual patients, FOI correlated significantly (p<0.05) with disease activity (Disease Activity Score 28, r=0.41), US (r=0.40) and RAMRIS (Rheumatoid Arthritis MRI Score) (r=0.56). FOI was normal in 97.8% of joints of controls.
ICG-enhanced FOI is a new technology offering sensitive imaging detection of inflammatory changes in subjects with arthritis. FOI was more sensitive than CE and had good agreement with CE, US in power Doppler mode and MRI, while showing more positive results than these. An adequate interpretation of an FOI sequence requires a separate evaluation of all phases. For the detection of synovitis and tenosynovitis, FOI appears to be as informative as 1.5 T MRI and US.
PMCID: PMC3298665  PMID: 22388997
25.  Consensus statement on blocking the effects of interleukin-6 and in particular by interleukin-6 receptor inhibition in rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(4):482-492.
Since approval of tocilizumab (TCZ) for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), interleukin 6 (IL-6) pathway inhibition was evaluated in trials of TCZ and other agents targeting the IL-6 receptor and ligand in various RA populations and other inflammatory diseases. This consensus document informs on interference with the IL-6 pathway based on evidence and expert opinion.
Preparation of this document involved international experts in RA treatment and RA patients. A systematic literature search was performed that focused on TCZ and other IL6-pathway inhibitors in RA and other diseases. Subsequently, incorporating available published evidence and expert opinion, the steering committee and a broader expert committee (both including RA patients) formulated the current consensus statement.
The consensus statement covers use of TCZ as combination- or monotherapy in various RA populations and includes clinical, functional and structural aspects. The statement also addresses the second approved indication in Europe JIA and non-approved indications. Also early phase trials involving additional agents that target the IL-6 receptor or IL-6 were evaluated. Safety concerns, including haematological, hepatic and metabolic issues as well as infections, are addressed likewise.
The consensus statement identifies points to consider when using TCZ, regarding indications, contraindications, screening, dose, comedication, response evaluation and safety. The document is aimed at supporting clinicians and informing patients, administrators and payers on opportunities and limitations of IL-6 pathway inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3595138  PMID: 23172750
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (biologic); Treatment

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