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1.  Active systemic lupus erythematosus is associated with a reduced cytokine production by B cells in response to TLR9 stimulation 
Introduction
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease associated with a break in self-tolerance reflected by a production of antinuclear autoantibodies. Since autoantibody production can be activated via nucleic acid Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9), the respective pathway has been implicated in the development of SLE and pathogenic B cell responses. However, the response of B cells from SLE patients to TLR9 stimulation remains incompletely characterized.
Methods
In the current study, the response of B cells from SLE patients and healthy donors upon TLR9 stimulation was analyzed in terms of proliferation and cytokine production and correlated with the lupus disease activity and anti-dsDNA titers.
Results
B cells from SLE patients showed a reduced response to TLR9 agonist compared to B cells from healthy donors in terms of proliferation and activation. B cells from SLE patients with higher disease activity produced less interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, vascular endothelial growth factor, and IL-1ra than B cells from healthy donors. Further analyses revealed an inverse correlation of cytokines produced by TLR9-stimulated B cells with lupus disease activity and anti-dsDNA titer, respectively.
Conclusion
The capacity of B cells from lupus patients to produce cytokines upon TLR9 engagement becomes less efficient with increasing disease activity, suggesting that they either enter an exhausted state or become tolerant to TLR stimulation for cytokine production when disease worsens.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0477-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13075-014-0477-1
PMCID: PMC4247768  PMID: 25385499
2.  Hydroxychloroquine in patients with inflammatory and erosive osteoarthritis of the hands (OA TREAT): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2014;15(1):412.
Background
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a heterogeneous group of conditions with disturbed integrity of articular cartilage and changes in the underlying bone. The pathogenesis of OA is multifactorial and not just a disease of older people. Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) typically used for the treatment of various rheumatic and dermatologic diseases. Three studies of HCQ in OA, including one abstract and one letter, are available and use a wide variety of outcome measures in small patient populations. Despite initial evidence for good efficacy of HCQ, there has been no randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled trial in a larger patient group. In the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR), evidence-based recommendations for the management of hand OA, HCQ was not included as a therapeutic option because of the current lack of randomized clinical trials.
Methods/Design
OA TREAT is an investigator-initiated, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. A total of 510 subjects with inflammatory and erosive hand OA, according to the classification criteria of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), with recent X-ray will be recruited across outpatient sites, hospitals and universities in Germany. Patients are randomized 1:1 to active treatment (HCQ 200 to 400 mg per day) or placebo for 52 weeks. Both groups receive standard therapy (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAID], coxibs) for OA treatment, taken steadily two weeks before enrollment and continued further afterwards. If disease activity increases, the dose of NSAID/coxibs can be increased according to the drug recommendation. The co-primary clinical endpoints are the changes in Australian-Canadian OA Index (AUSCAN, German version) dimensions for pain and hand disability at week 52. The co-primary radiographic endpoint is the radiographic progression from baseline to week 52. A multiple endpoint test and analysis of covariance will be used to compare changes between groups. All analyses will be conducted on an intention-to-treat basis.
Discussion
The OA TREAT trial will examine the clinical and radiological efficacy and safety of HCQ as a treatment option for inflammatory and erosive OA over 12 months. OA TREAT focuses on erosive hand OA in contrast to other current studies on symptomatic hand OA, for example, HERO [Trials 14:64, 2013].
Trial registration
ISRCTN46445413, date of registration: 05-10-2011.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-412
PMCID: PMC4219005  PMID: 25348033
Erosive hand osteoarthritis; Hydroxychloroquine; Double-blind; Hand; Placebo-controlled; Randomized
4.  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.
Objectives
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1136/ard.2010.139725
PMCID: PMC3070275  PMID: 21187298
5.  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.
Objective
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).
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1136/ard.2006.066761
PMCID: PMC1954645  PMID: 17329305
adalimumab; rheumatoid arthritis; tumour necrosis factor; monoclonal antibody; antirheumatic agents
7.  Rituximab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis in routine practice (GERINIS): six-year results from a prospective, multicentre, non-interventional study in 2,484 patients 
Introduction
The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of rituximab (RTX) in a large cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis in routine care, and to monitor changes in daily practice since the introduction of RTX therapy.
Methods
This was a multicentre, prospective, non-interventional study conducted under routine practice conditions in Germany. Efficacy was evaluated using Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28) and Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI). Safety was assessed by recording adverse drug reactions (ADRs). Physician and patient global efficacy and tolerability assessments were also evaluated.
Results
Overall, 2,484 patients (76.7% female, mean age 56.4 years, mean disease duration 11.7 years) received RTX treatment (22.7% monotherapy). The total observation period was approximately six-years (median follow-up 14.7 months). RTX treatment led to improvements in DAS28 and HAQ-DI that were sustained over multiple courses. DAS28 improvements positively correlated with higher rheumatoid factor levels up to 50 IU/ml. Response and tolerability were rated good/very good by the majority of physicians and patients. Mean treatment intervals were 10.5 and 6.8 months for the first and last 400 enrolled patients, respectively. Infections were the most frequently reported ADRs (9.1%; 11.39/100 patient-years); approximately 1% of patients per course discontinued therapy due to ADRs.
Conclusions
Prolonged RTX treatment in routine care is associated with good efficacy and tolerability, as measured by conventional parameters and by physicians’ and patients’ global assessments. Rheumatoid factor status served as a distinct and quantitative biomarker of RTX responsiveness. With growing experience, physicians repeated treatments earlier in patients with less severe disease activity.
doi:10.1186/ar4521
PMCID: PMC4060207  PMID: 24670196
8.  Safety and effectiveness of adalimumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis over 5 years of therapy in a phase 3b and subsequent postmarketing observational study 
Introduction
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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
doi:10.1186/ar4452
PMCID: PMC3979145  PMID: 24460746
9.  Real-world effectiveness of abatacept for rheumatoid arthritis treatment in European and Canadian populations: a 6-month interim analysis of the 2-year, observational, prospective ACTION study 
Background
Discontinuation of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment for lack or loss of initial response, tolerability issues, or development of antibodies against the therapeutic agent remains a challenge in clinical practice. Here we present a 6-month interim analysis of a 2-year prospective observational trial in Europe and Canada aiming to assess the real-world effectiveness, safety, and tolerability of intravenous abatacept for the treatment of moderate-to-severe RA.
Methods
ACTION (AbataCepT In rOutiNe clinical practice) is a prospective, observational study assessing effectiveness, safety, and tolerability of abatacept in patients with RA enrolled in Europe and Canada between May 2008 and January 2011. The patient population was divided into two groups: biologic naïve (‘first-line’) patients and patients who had previously failed treatment with at least one biologic agent (‘second-line’). Retention rates were calculated using Kaplan–Meier curve estimates. Effectiveness was measured using European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria, the 28-item Disease Activity Score, the Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI), and physical function, as assessed by the Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI). Serious adverse events (SAEs) were reported for all enrolled patients.
Results
Of 1138 consecutively enrolled patients, 1114 and 1079 patients were evaluable for retention and effectiveness, respectively. Overall, retention rates were 88.6% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 86.4, 90.4); 67.4% of patients achieved good/moderate EULAR response; 32.8% had a CDAI Low Disease Activity State (LDAS); and 44.7% a HAQ-DI response. Retention rates among first- and second-line patients were 93.0% (95% CI: 85.9, 96.6) and 88.1% (95% CI: 85.7, 90.0), respectively. The percentage of patients achieving CDAI LDAS was 40.0% (95% CI: 26.4, 53.6) for first- and 32.2% (95% CI: 28.4, 36.0) for second-line patients and the proportion achieving a HAQ-DI response was 60.3% (95% CI: 47.8, 72.9) versus 43.1% (95% CI: 39.0, 47.2), respectively. The incidence of SAEs was 4.7%.
Conclusions
Evidence from this 6-month interim analysis suggests that abatacept offers an effective and well-tolerated treatment option for patients with RA, including those who have previously failed anti-tumor necrosis factor treatment. In addition, higher retention rates and effectiveness outcomes were observed when abatacept treatment was initiated earlier in the course of the disease.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-14
PMCID: PMC3898027  PMID: 24410774
Rheumatoid arthritis; Biological agents; Abatacept; Effectiveness; Safety; Registries
10.  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.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2010-148288
PMCID: PMC3298665  PMID: 22388997
11.  Efficacy and safety of mavrilimumab in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2012;72(9):1445-1452.
Objectives
Mavrilimumab, a human monoclonal antibody targeting the alpha subunit of the granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor, was evaluated in a phase 2 randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to investigate efficacy and safety in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods
Subcutaneous mavrilimumab (10 mg, 30 mg, 50 mg, or 100 mg) or placebo was administered every other week for 12 weeks in subjects on stable background methotrexate therapy. The primary endpoint was the proportion of subjects achieving a ≥1.2 decrease from baseline in Disease Activity Score (DAS28-CRP) at week 12.
Results
55.7% of mavrilimumab-treated subjects met the primary endpoint versus 34.7% placebo (p=0.003) at week 12; for the 10 mg, 30 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg groups, responses were 41.0% (p=0.543), 61.0% (p=0.011), 53.8% (p=0.071), and 66.7% (p=0.001) respectively. Response rate differences from placebo were observed at week 2 and increased throughout the treatment period. The 100 mg dose demonstrated a significant effect versus placebo on DAS28-CRP<2.6 (23.1% vs 6.7%, p=0.016), all categories of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria (ACR20: 69.2% vs 40.0%, p=0.005; ACR50: 30.8% vs 12.0%, p=0.021; ACR70: 17.9% vs 4.0%, p=0.030), and the Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index (−0.48 vs −0.25, p=0.005). A biomarker-based disease activity score showed a dose-dependent decrease at week 12, indicating suppression of disease-related biological pathways. Adverse events were generally mild or moderate in intensity. No significant hypersensitivity reactions, serious or opportunistic infections, or changes in pulmonary parameters were observed.
Conclusions
Mavrilimumab induced rapid clinically significant responses in RA subjects, suggesting that inhibiting the mononuclear phagocyte pathway may provide a novel therapeutic approach for RA.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202450
PMCID: PMC3756523  PMID: 23234647
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Treatment; Disease Activity
12.  A randomised, double-blind, parallel-group study of the safety and efficacy of subcutaneous tocilizumab versus intravenous tocilizumab in combination with traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (SUMMACTA study) 
Objectives
This study compared the efficacy and safety of subcutaneous (SC) versus intravenous (IV) formulations of tocilizumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis with an inadequate response to disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARD).
Methods
Patients (n=1262) were randomly assigned to receive tocilizumab-SC 162 mg weekly+placebo-IV every 4 weeks or tocilizumab-IV 8 mg/kg every 4 weeks+placebo-SC weekly in combination with traditional DMARD. The primary outcome was to demonstrate the non-inferiority of tocilizumab-SC to tocilizumab-IV with regard to the proportion of patients in each group achieving an American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 20 response at week 24 using a 12% non-inferiority margin (NIM). Secondary outcomes were disease activity score using 28 joints (DAS28), ACR responses, health assessment questionnaire scores and safety assessments.
Results
At week 24, 69.4% (95% CI 65.5 to 73.2) of tocilizumab-SC-treated patients versus 73.4% (95% CI 69.6 to 77.1) of tocilizumab-IV-treated patients achieved an ACR20 response (weighted difference between groups −4.0%, 95% CI −9.2 to 1.2); the 12% NIM was met. ACR50/70 responses, DAS28 and physical function improvements were comparable between the tocilizumab-SC and tocilizumab-IV groups. The safety profiles of tocilizumab-SC and tocilizumab-IV were similar, and the most common adverse event was infection. Injection-site reactions (ISR) occurred more frequently in the tocilizumab-SC group than in the tocilizumab-IV (placebo-SC) group. No anaphylaxis was reported over the 24 weeks.
Conclusions
Tocilizumab-SC 162 mg weekly demonstrated comparable efficacy to tocilizumab-IV 8 mg/kg. The safety profile of tocilizumab-SC is consistent with the known and well-established safety profile of tocilizumab-IV, with the exception of a higher incidence of ISR, which were more common with tocilizumab-SC administration.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-203523
PMCID: PMC3888614  PMID: 23904473
Rheumatoid Arthritis; DMARDs (biologic); Disease Activity
13.  The anti-CD74 humanized monoclonal antibody, milatuzumab, which targets the invariant chain of MHC II complexes, alters B-cell proliferation, migration, and adhesion molecule expression 
Introduction
Targeting CD74 as the invariant chain of major histocompatibility complexes (MHC) became possible by the availability of a specific humanized monoclonal antibody, milatuzumab, which is under investigation in patients with hematological neoplasms. CD74 has been reported to regulate chemo-attractant migration of macrophages and dendritic cells, while the role of CD74 on peripheral naïve and memory B cells also expressing CD74 remains unknown. Therefore, the current study addressed the influence of milatuzumab on B-cell proliferation, chemo-attractant migration, and adhesion molecule expression.
Methods
Surface expression of CD74 on CD27- naïve and CD27+ memory B cells as well as other peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained from normals, including the co-expression of CD44, CXCR4, and the adhesion molecules CD62L, β7-integrin, β1-integrin and CD9 were studied after binding of milatuzumab using multicolor flow cytometry. The influence of the antibody on B-cell proliferation and migration was analyzed in vitro in detail.
Results
In addition to monocytes, milatuzumab also specifically bound to human peripheral B cells, with a higher intensity on CD27+ memory versus CD27- naïve B cells. The antibody reduced B-cell proliferation significantly but moderately, induced enhanced spontaneous and CXCL12-dependent migration together with changes in the expression of adhesion molecules, CD44, β7-integrin and CD62L, mainly of CD27- naïve B cells. This was independent of macrophage migration-inhibitory factor as a ligand of CD74/CD44 complexes.
Conclusions
Milatuzumab leads to modestly reduced proliferation, alterations in migration, and adhesion molecule expression preferentially of CD27- naïve B cells. It thus may be a candidate antibody for the autoimmune disease therapy by modifying B cell functions.
doi:10.1186/ar3767
PMCID: PMC3446420  PMID: 22404985
14.  Kitasato symposium 2010: new prospects for cytokines 
The Second Kitasato Symposium: New Prospects for Cytokines brought together researchers and rheumatologists to consider the essential role of cytokines in health and their contributions to autoimmunity. Topics addressed during the Symposium - which was held in Berlin, Germany from 27 to 29 May 2010 - included established and new cytokine targets in arthritis and autoimmunity and innovative aspects of osteoimmunology as well as current perspectives from translational and clinical studies. The keynote lecture, delivered by George Kollias, focused on insights gained from animal models into the mechanisms of TNF function in chronic inflammation and autoimmunity. The presentations at the Symposium resulted in productive discussions regarding potential new targets for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders.
doi:10.1186/ar3196
PMCID: PMC3046527  PMID: 21235827
15.  The association between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease 
Chronic, plaque-associated inflammation of the gingiva and the periodontium are among the most common oral diseases. Periodontitis (PD) is characterized by the inflammatory destruction of the periodontal attachment and alveolar bone, and its clinical appearance can be influenced by congenital as well as acquired factors. The existence of a rheumatic or other inflammatory systemic disease may promote PD in both its emergence and progress. However, there is evidence that PD maintains systemic diseases. Nevertheless, many mechanisms in the pathogenesis have not yet been examined sufficiently, so that a final explanatory model is still under discussion, and we hereby present arguments in favor of this. In this review, we also discuss in detail the fact that oral bacterial infections and inflammation seem to be linked directly to the etiopathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There are findings that support the hypothesis that oral infections play a role in RA pathogenesis. Of special importance are the impact of periodontal pathogens, such as Porphyromonas gingivalis on citrullination, and the association of PD in RA patients with seropositivity toward rheumatoid factor and the anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody.
doi:10.1186/ar3106
PMCID: PMC2990988  PMID: 21062513
16.  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.
Objective
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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.
Conclusions
The data demonstrate that CZP provides broad relief from the burden of RA.
Trial registration number
NCT00160602.
doi:10.1136/ard.2010.143586
PMCID: PMC3086050  PMID: 21415050
17.  Kitasato Symposium 2009: New Prospects for Cytokine Inhibition 
The Kitasato Symposium 2009: New Prospects for Cytokine Inhibition was held in Berlin, Germany from 7 to 9 May 2009. The key aims of this meeting were to bring together a group of front-line researchers and rheumatologists to evaluate the use of cytokine blockade and to examine the role of certain cytokines in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. A keynote lecture delivered by Professor Jean-Michel Dayer provided an up-to-date overview of the interactions occurring between the immune system and acute phase proteins. Other speakers discussed the role of cytokines in rheumatoid arthritis, including their role in joint destruction, as well as their regulatory role upon T cells and B cells. The involvement of cytokines in other autoimmune diseases was also addressed.
doi:10.1186/ar2857
PMCID: PMC3003512  PMID: 20067593
18.  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.
Introduction
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).
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00152386.
doi:10.1186/ar2859
PMCID: PMC3003523  PMID: 19909548
19.  Bronchoalveoloar lavage fluid cytokines and chemokines as markers and predictors for the outcome of interstitial lung disease in systemic sclerosis patients 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2009;11(4):R111.
Introduction
Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a frequent manifestation of systemic sclerosis (SSc), and cytokines can contribute to the disease pathology. The aim of the current study was to identify specific changes in cytokine levels that may serve as disease markers and possible targets for therapy.
Methods
Cytokines were measured with bioplex analysis in 38 bronchoalveolar fluids (BALFs) from 32 SSc patients (27 with alveolitis and 11 without alveolitis) and 26 control patients. In the case of SSc patients, cytokines were correlated with the respective bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cell differentiation, lung function, and thoracic HR-CT score. For 35 BALF samples derived from 29 SSc patients, follow-up investigations of clinical data, lung-function parameter, or thoracic HR-CT scans were available to evaluate the predictive capacity of BALF cytokines and chemokines.
Results
High IL-7 levels were characteristic of SSc-associated interstitial lung disease (ILD) and, in addition, when compared with ILD-negative SSc patients, ILD-positive SSc patients revealed higher IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, and CCL2 (MCP-1) BALF levels. High CCL2 and IL-8 BALF concentrations were associated with neutrophilic and mixed alveolitis. Cytokine levels of IL-4, IL-8, and CCL2 correlated negatively with lung-function parameters; CCL2 concentrations also correlated with HR-CT scores. High concentrations of several cytokines were associated with the progress of ILD and end-stage ILD. Univariate analyses revealed high IL-2 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) levels as the best predictors for progressive disease, together with lung-function parameters, young age, and neutrophilic alveolitis. Multivariate analyses partially confirmed these results but did not sufficiently converge because of the limited number of patients.
Conclusions
The association of BALF cytokines with lung fibrosis and its progress suggests that cytokines contribute to the pathogenesis of ILD and hence could be regarded as potential therapeutic targets.
doi:10.1186/ar2766
PMCID: PMC2745793  PMID: 19615053
20.  Diagnostic value of anti-topoisomerase I antibodies in a large monocentric cohort 
Introduction
In the present study, the detection of anti-topoisomerase I (anti-topo I) autoantibodies was evaluated for diagnosis and risk assessment of systemic sclerosis (SSc) patients in a well characterized large monocentric cohort.
Methods
Sera from patients with SSc (diffuse n = 96, limited n = 113), from patients with overlap syndromes (n = 51), from patients with other diseases associated with SSc (n = 20), as well as from disease controls (n = 487) were analysed for the presence of anti-topo I antibodies by line immunoblot assay and ELISA. Assessment of organ manifestations was performed as proposed by the European Scleroderma Trial and Research network.
Results
The applied test systems for the detection of anti-topo I antibodies revealed a diagnostic sensitivity for SSc of approximately 24% and a diagnostic specificity of at least 99.6%. The sensitivity to identify patients with diffuse SSc amounted to 60%. Patients with anti-topo I antibodies showed a higher burden of skin and lung fibrosis, contractures, electrocardiogram changes, as well as digital ulcers and had more active disease than antibody-negative patients. Signal strengths correlated only weakly with disease activity, with modified Rodnan skin score, with predicted forced vital capacity, and with predicted diffusion capacity levels (P = 0.01, ρ = 0.234, ρ = 0.413, ρ = -0.215, ρ = -0.219). High signal intensities were associated with an increased mortality in diffuse SSc patients (P = 0.003).
Conclusions
Diagnosis and risk assessment of SSc patients can be supported by the detection of anti-topo I antibodies. Signal intensities as obtained by line immunoblot assay or ELISA can be used as a surrogate marker for fibrosis, active disease and worse prognosis.
doi:10.1186/ar2622
PMCID: PMC2688262  PMID: 19232127
21.  Antibodies against PM/Scl-75 and PM/Scl-100 are independent markers for different subsets of systemic sclerosis patients 
Introduction
Anti-PM/Scl antibodies are present in sera from patients with polymyositis (PM), systemic sclerosis (SSc), and PM/SSc overlap syndromes. The prevalence of antibodies against the 75- and 100-kDa PM/Scl proteins and their clinical associations have not been studied in SSc patients in detail so far but could provide a valuable tool for risk assessment in these patients. Furthermore, it remains speculative whether commercially available test systems detecting only anti-PM/Scl-100 antibodies are sufficient in SSc patients.
Methods
Two hundred eighty sera from SSc patients, patients with other connective tissue diseases (n = 209), and healthy blood donors (n = 50) were analyzed for the presence of anti-PM/Scl-75 and anti-PM/Scl-100 antibodies by means of line immunoblot assay. For the SSc patients, possible associations between both subsets of anti-PM/Scl antibodies with clinical and laboratory findings were studied.
Results
The determination of anti-PM/Scl reactivity revealed a diagnostic sensitivity of 12.5% and a specificity of 96.9% for SSc. Among anti-PM/Scl-positive SSc patients, 10.4% and 7.1% were positive for anti-PM/Scl-75 and anti-PM/Scl-100 antibodies, respectively. The highest prevalences of reactivity to PM/Scl were detected in diffuse SSc (19.8%) and overlap syndromes (17.6%). Patients with diffuse SSc showed mainly an anti-PM/Scl-75 response, whereas most cases of overlap syndromes were characterized by reactivity to both PM/Scl antigens. The presence of anti-PM/Scl-75/100 antibodies was associated with muscular and lung involvements as well as with digital ulcers; pulmonary arterial hypertension was found less frequently. Anti-PM/Scl-75 antibodies were detected more frequently in younger and more active patients with joint contractures. Anti-PM/Scl-100 antibodies were associated with creatine kinase elevation; however, gastrointestinal involvements were observed less frequently.
Conclusions
Anti-PM/Scl antibodies are common in distinct SSc subsets and are associated with several clinical symptoms. They are directed mainly to the PM/Scl-75 antigen. Consequently, the detection of anti-PM/Scl antibodies by tests based only on PM/Scl-100 as an antigen source may miss a relevant number of SSc patients positive for these antibodies.
doi:10.1186/ar2614
PMCID: PMC2688254  PMID: 19220911
23.  Cardiovascular disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: results from the QUEST-RA study 
Introduction
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/ar2383
PMCID: PMC2453774  PMID: 18325087
24.  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.
doi:10.1186/ar2180
PMCID: PMC1906819  PMID: 17451597
25.  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.
doi:10.1186/ar2018
PMCID: PMC1779377  PMID: 16859536

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