Svensson, B. et al. Low-dose prednisolone in addition to the initial disease-modifying antirheumatic drug in patients with early active rheumatoid arthritis reduces joint destruction and increases the remission rate: a two-year randomized trial. Arthritis Rheum. 52, 3360-3370

Stockholm University, Tukholma, Stockholm, Sweden
Arthritis & Rheumatology (Impact Factor: 7.76). 11/2005; 52(11):3360-70. DOI: 10.1002/art.21298
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To assess the efficacy of low-dose prednisolone on joint damage and disease activity in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
At the start of their initial treatment with a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD), patients with early (duration < or =1 year) active RA were randomly assigned to receive either 7.5 mg/day prednisolone or no prednisolone for 2 years. Radiographs of the hands and feet were obtained at baseline and after 1 and 2 years and scored according to the Sharp score as modified by van der Heijde. Remission was defined as a Disease Activity Score in 28 joints of <2.6. Bone mineral density was measured by dual x-ray absorptiometry at baseline and after 2 years.
Of the 250 patients included, 242 completed the study and 225 had radiographs available both at baseline and at 2 years. At 2 years, the median and interquartile range (IQR) change in total Sharp score was lower in the prednisolone group than in the no-prednisolone group (1.8 [IQR 0.5-6.0] versus 3.5 [IQR 0.5-10]; P = 0.019). In the prednisolone group, there were fewer newly eroded joints per patient after 2 years (median 0.5 [IQR 0-2] versus 1.25 [IQR 0-3.25]; P = 0.007). In the prednisolone group, 25.9% of patients had radiographic progression beyond the smallest detectable difference compared with 39.3% of patients in the no-prednisolone group (P = 0.033). At 2 years, 55.5% of patients in the prednisolone group had achieved disease remission, compared with 32.8% of patients in the no-prednisolone group (P = 0.0005). There were few adverse events that led to withdrawal. Bone loss during the 2-year study was similar in the 2 treatment groups.
Prednisolone at 7.5 mg/day added to the initial DMARD retarded the progression of radiographic damage after 2 years in patients with early RA, provided a high remission rate, and was well tolerated. Therefore, the data support the use of low-dose prednisolone as an adjunct to DMARDs in early active RA.

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Available from: Catharina Keller, Oct 14, 2014
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    • "The smallest detectable change in total SHS was 5.8. Radiographic progression was defined as a change of total SHS of 5.8 or more [37]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Currently available biomarkers for the early tissue process leading to joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis are insufficient and lack prognostic accuracy, possibly a result of variable activity of the disease over time. This study represents a novel approach to detect an altered activity of the disease process detected as increasing serum-COMP levels over a short time and whether this would correlate with joint damage progression over the first 5 years of disease. In all, 349 patients from the Swedish BARFOT early RA study were examined. Serum-COMP was analysed by ELISA at diagnosis and after 3 months. Based on changes in serum-COMP levels, three subgroups of patients were defined: those with unchanged levels (change <= 20%) (N=142), decreasing levels (> 20 %) (N=173) and increasing levels (> 20%) (N=34). Radiographs of hands and feet were obtained at inclusion, after 1, 2 and 5 years and scored according to Sharp van der Heijde (SHS). Radiographic progression was defined as increase in SHS by >=5.8. The group of patients with increasing COMP levels showed higher median change in total SHS and erosion scores at 1, 2 and 5 year follow-up compared with the groups with stable or decreasing COMP levels. Furthermore, the odds ratio of radiographic progression was 2.8 (95% CI 1.26-6.38) for patients with increasing COMP levels vs. patients with unchanged levels.The group of patients with increasing COMP levels had higher ESR at inclusion but there were no baseline differences between the groups for age, gender, disease duration, disease activity (DAS28), function (HAQ), CRP, nor presence of rheumatoid factor or anti-CCP. Importantly, neither did changes over the 3-month period in DAS28, HAQ, ESR nor CRP differ between the groups and these variables did not correlate to joint damage progression. Increasing serum-COMP levels between diagnosis and the subsequent 3 months in patients with early RA represents a novel indicator of an activated destructive process in the joint and is a promising tool to identify patients with significant joint damage progression during a 5-year period.
    BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 08/2013; 14(1):229. DOI:10.1186/1471-2474-14-229 · 1.72 Impact Factor
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    • "Three studies assessed erosive progression in patients achieving remission compared to other cases: one study reported lower erosive progression with sustained remission (19% vs. 72%) [67], whereas two other studies found no differences. In the RCTs included in this review, patients showed less progression of joint damage in remission when treated with combination therapies compared to monotherapies [6] [63] [68]. "
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    ABSTRACT: With recent improvements in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), remission has become an achievable goal for a large proportion of RA patients, and remission is now a defined target in current RA guidelines. However, studies have shown that progression of radiographic joint damage may occur in clinical remission, regardless of the choice of remission definition. Sub-clinical inflammation detected by modern imaging techniques such as ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging is present in the majority of patients in clinical remission, and is associated with progressive joint damage and disease activity flare in these patients. This chapter aims to assess the importance of imaging findings in RA patients in clinical remission and to discuss the possible role of modern imaging in future remission criteria.
    Best practice & research. Clinical rheumatology 12/2012; 26(6):767-85. DOI:10.1016/j.berh.2012.10.004 · 2.60 Impact Factor
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    • "Of those with accessible and readable radiographs, four patients were excluded due to improper positioning of the hand. During the observation period, patients were treated according to clinical judgment by their rheumatologist, except for 166 patients participating in a randomized low-dose glucocorticoid study [17]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction The aim of this study was to investigate the role of hand bone mineral density (BMD) loss analyzed with digital X-ray radiogrammetry (DXR) in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as a predictor for progression of joint damage. Methods In 379 patients with early RA, baseline and one-year hand BMD was measured with DXR and the hand bone loss (HBL) was analyzed using the smallest detectable change (HBLsdc) and tertiles (HBLtertiles). Joint damage in hands and feet were scored according to the Sharp van der Heijde (SHS) method at baseline and at one, two, five and eight years. At the same time-points Disease Activity Score (DAS28) was calculated and functional disability assessed. Rheumatoid factor (RF) and antibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptides (anti-CCP) were analyzed at baseline. Results Sixty-six percent of the patients had hand BMD loss in the first year of RA determined by HBLsdc and 65% by HBLtertiles. Radiographic progression after two, five and eight years was associated with hand bone loss defined by HBLsdc. By HBLtertiles there were significant associations at all time-points except at eight years. The change in DXR at one year (ChDXR1yr) correlated significantly and inversely with the change in SHS (ChSHS) at two, five and eight years. Multivariate analysis showed that only change in SHS during the first year and the presence of anti-CCP were independent predictors of long-term progressive joint damage. If radiographic scores were not included, DXR-BMD loss was an independent predictor. Patients with great bone loss by HBLtertiles had significantly more often high disease activity after two years. However, neither bone loss by HBLsdc or HBLtertiles nor by ChDXR1yr was an independent predictor of remission after two, five and eight years. Conclusions This study confirms previous reports of an association of decrease in DXR-BMD during the first disease year with progression of radiographic joint damage over an extended period of time. This association was independent in a regression model only when radiological findings were excluded suggesting a possible predictive role of DXR-BMD in clinical practice when radiographic evaluation is not available. However, further studies are required before this can be established.
    Arthritis research & therapy 10/2012; 14(5):R219. DOI:10.1186/ar4058 · 3.75 Impact Factor
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