[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Current clinical practice suggests that recovering the hand functionality lost or reduced by injuries, interventions, and chronic diseases requires, beyond pharmacological treatments, a kinesiotherapic intervention. This form of rehabilitation consists of physical exercises adapted to the specific pathology. Its effectiveness is strongly dependent on the patient's adhesion to such a program. In this paper, we present a novel device with remote monitoring capabilities expressly conceived for the needs of rheumatic patients. It comprises several sensorized tools and can be used either in an outpatient clinic for hand functional evaluation, connected to a PC, or afforded to the patient for home kinesiotherapic sessions. In the latter case, the device guides the patient in the rehabilitation session, transmitting the relevant statistics about his performance to a TCP/IP server exploiting a GSM/GPRS connection for deferred analysis. An approved clinical trial has been set up in Italy, involving 10 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 10 with systemic sclerosis, enrolled for 12 weeks in a home rehabilitation program with the proposed device. Their evaluation has been performed not only with traditional methods, but also with the proposed device. Subjective (hand algofunctional Dreiser's index) and objective (ROM, strength, and dexterity) parameters showed a sustained improvement throughout the follow-up. The obtained results proved that the device is an effective and safe tool for assessing hand disability and monitoring kinesiotherapy exercise, portending the potential exploitability of such a methodology in the clinical practice.
Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine, IEEE Journal of. 01/2014; 2:1-11.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective
To evaluate the safety and efficacy of rituximab in patients suffering from rhupus unresponsive to therapy with non-biological disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).Methods
Six patients fulfilling criteria for both rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and with a DAS28 score >5.1 were enrolled to receive two fortnightly 1000 mg rituximab doses at baseline and after 28 weeks. All patients underwent clinical, laboratory, and power- Doppler (PD) ultrasonographic (US) assessment at baseline and after 14, 28 and 56 weeks.ResultsA sustained improvement in DAS28, SLEDAI, HAQ, laboratory markers and ultrasound indices together with a significant reduction in the daily dose of prednisone were observed throughout follow-up.Conclusion
Rituximab may be a safe and effective therapeutic option in refractory rhupus patients.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Psoriatic arthritis is a complex disease affecting primarily peripheral and axial joints and entheses together with the skin. The pathogenesis is characterized by a genetic background and by inflammatory mechanisms which may be triggered by environmental factors. Several susceptibility genes have been investigated; they include HLA genes, genes within the HLA region and genes outside the HLA region. T cells, including the recently described subset Th17, are thought to play an important role in the acute and chronic phases of the disease. Some of these findings allowed novel therapeutic interventions or opened new promising approaches in treatment. The most relevant data of the literature are summarized and discussed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a rare disease requiring multicentre collaboration to reveal comprehensive details of disease-related causes for morbidity and mortality.
The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Scleroderma Trials and Research (EUSTAR) group initiated a database to prospectively gather key data of patients with SSc using a minimal essential dataset that was reorganised in 2008 introducing new items. Baseline visit data of patients who were registered between 2004 and 2011 were analysed using descriptive statistics.
In June 2011, 7655 patients (2838 with diffuse cutaneous (dc) and 4481 with limited cutaneous (lc) SSc who fulfilled the American College of Rheumatology diagnostic criteria had been registered in 174 centres, mainly European. The most prominent hallmarks of disease were Raynaud's phenomenon (96.3%), antinuclear antibodies (93.4%) and a typical capillaroscopic pattern (90.9%). Scleroderma was more common on fingers and hands than on any other part of the skin. Proton pump inhibitors (65.2%), calcium channel blockers (52.7%), and corticosteroids (45.3%) were most often prescribed. Among the immunosuppressant agents, cyclophosphamide was used more often in dcSSc than in lcSSc.
The EUSTAR database provides an abundance of information on the true clinical face of SSc that will be helpful in improving the classification of SSc and its subsets and for developing more specific therapeutic recommendations.
Annals of the rheumatic diseases 05/2012; 71(8):1355-60. · 8.11 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous reports have highlighted the relevance of HLA-B27 expression in the pathogenesis of ankylosing spondylitis (AS). The aim of the current study was to estimate the level of HLA-B27 expression on the cell surface of ex vivo monocytes and lymphocytes by a quantitative method and to correlate this with AS disease susceptibility, disease clinical indexes, and the occurrence of acute anterior uveitis (AAU).
We recruited 32 B27-positive patients with AS and 32 B27-positive healthy normal controls (NCs) for evaluation at different time points. The expression of HLA-B27 molecules was quantified by flow cytometry on ex vivo peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Patients were also evaluated by scores on the Bath AS disease activity (BASDAI), functional (BASFI), and metrology (BASMI) indexes.
The expression of HLA-B27 molecules was significantly higher in patients with AS than in B27-matched controls in the case of both monocytes [219K (IQR 174K-308K) vs. 137K (IQR 96K-170K), p < 0.0001] and lymphocytes [82K (IQR 58K-118K) vs. 54K (IQR 44K-61K), p < 0.0001]; AS only vs. AS with AAU: p = 0.744 in monocytes and p = 0.701 in lymphocytes. Comparisons with metrology and functional indexes were also not significant (BASMI: r = 0.05, p = 0.77; BASFI: r = -0.09, p = 0.67). The overexpression of HLA-B27 molecules was stable after 1 week of follow-up. At 3 years follow-up, the variability was moderate and did not correlate with variations in disease activity (BASDAI: r = -0.01, p = 0.92 ns).
The level of HLA-B27 expression in PBMCs correlates with the susceptibility to AS but not with the disease outcome, nor with the occurrence of extra-articular manifestations such as AAU.
Scandinavian journal of rheumatology 02/2012; 41(3):214-8. · 2.51 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A novel immunoenzymatic assay using viral citrullinated peptides derived from Epstein-Barr virus-encoded proteins (viral citrullinated peptide 2 (VCP2)) has been developed and evaluated by means of a multicentre collaborative study.
Three hundred nine sera from patients with established rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 36 with early arthritis, 12 with juvenile arthritis and 453 controls were tested for VCP2 and cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) antibodies.
The VCP2 assay showed 78.3% sensitivity and 97.1% specificity. VCP2 and CCP had a high concordance rate in patients with RA (88%) and controls (97%). However, 36 RA sera were positive in the CCP assay but negative on VCP2, and two RA sera reacted only on VCP2.
The new VCP2 assay is endowed with high sensitivity and specificity. VCP2-positive RA sera are mostly but not completely contained in the CCP-positive population. Studies are in progress to establish whether the VCP2 assay can detect clinically distinct subsets of patients with RA.
Journal of clinical pathology 09/2011; 64(12):1139-41. · 2.43 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is characterised by the strongest association with an HLA antigen ever described for any disease. It represents therefore the ideal model for the understanding of the link between immune-mediated diseases and the HLA system. The role of HLA-B27 in the pathogenesis of AS will be discussed focusing on the recently described higher expression of these molecules in patients with AS compared with healthy controls.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To examine the outcomes of hand radiographic x-rays in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) and to identify risk factors for the progression of hand radiographic lesions in a prospective cohort.
Dual time-point x-rays were systematically performed after a median interval of 5 years (range 4-7 years) in 103 consecutively recruited patients with SSc. Univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazards models evaluated predictors of progression of hand radiographic lesions.
Radiographic progression of erosive arthritis, acro-osteolysis, calcinosis and flexion contracture occurred in 24, 22, 27 and 18 patients, respectively. Multivariate Cox regression analysis did not identify any predictor of the progression of erosive arthritis. Digital ulcers were shown independently to predict the progression of acro-osteolysis and calcinosis (HR 12.43, 95% CI 1.97 to 88.40 and 3.16, 95% CI 1.22% to 9.43%, respectively). The diffuse cutaneous subset was shown to be an independent predictor of the progression of flexion contracture (HR 7.52, 95% CI 1.21 to 43.93).
The results highlight the striking level of hand radiographic lesions in SSc and suggest close monitoring of patients with the diffuse cutaneous subset for the occurrence or worsening of this complication. The results also show that severe peripheral vascular involvement predicts both acro-osteolysis and calcinosis, highlighting their vascular background.
Annals of the rheumatic diseases 12/2010; 70(4):630-3. · 8.11 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A) receptors play a crucial role in regulating neuronal excitability and cognitive functions. Single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) analysis of GABA-A receptors binding by (123)I-labelled Iomazenil ((123)I-IMZ) has been applied in some neuropsychiatric disorders to investigate conditions where GABA-A receptor density can be detected in several pathophysiological conditions. In this study we investigate cerebral GABA-A receptor density in a small series of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and cognitive impairment characterized by recurrent, episodic memory loss. Nine female patients with SLE and cognitive alterations underwent to a clinical neuropsychiatric evaluation including digital video-EEG, brain MRI, (99m)Tc-ECD brain SPECT and (123)I-IMZ brain SPECT. All patients tested showed diffuse or focal GABA-A receptor density reduction. This is, to our knowledge, the first report on GABA-A receptor density abnormalities associated with cognitive defects in SLE patients. We hypothesize that in our series a decrease in GABA-A receptor density might be related to the neurological manifestations. Further studies are needed to clarify this aspect and the possible mechanisms. GABA-A receptor density impairment might be due to the SLE-related cerebral vasculopathy, or to neuronal-reacting auto-antibodies or drugs which could interfere with GABA-A receptors expression/binding. This study may support the concept that cognitive impairment in systemic lupus erythematosus could be the outcome of fine-tuned neurotransmission alterations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine the prevalence of and independent factors associated with joint involvement in a large population of patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).
This study was cross-sectional, based on data collected on patients included in the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Scleroderma Trials and Research (EUSTAR) registry. We queried this database to extract data regarding global evaluation of patients with SSc and the presence of any clinical articular involvement: synovitis (tender and swollen joints), tendon friction rubs (rubbing sensation detected as the tendon was moved), and joint contracture (stiffness of the joints that decreased their range of motion). Overall joint involvement was defined by the occurrence of synovitis and/or joint contracture and/or tendon friction rubs.
We recruited 7286 patients with SSc; their mean age was 56 +/- 14 years, disease duration 10 +/- 9 years, and 4210 (58%) had a limited cutaneous disease subset. Frequencies of synovitis, tendon friction rubs, and joint contractures were 16%, 11%, and 31%, respectively. Synovitis, tendon friction rubs, and joint contracture were more prevalent in patients with the diffuse cutaneous subset and were associated together and with severe vascular, muscular, renal, and interstitial lung involvement. Moreover, synovitis had the highest strength of association with elevated acute-phase reactants taken as the dependent variable.
Our results highlight the striking level of articular involvement in SSc, as evaluated by systematic examination in a large cohort of patients with SSc. Our data also show that synovitis, joint contracture, and tendon friction rubs are associated with a more severe disease and with systemic inflammation.
The Journal of Rheumatology 07/2010; 37(7):1488-501. · 3.26 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aims of this study were to assess the spectrum of liver disease occurring in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), primarily the incidence, clinical course and outcome of lupus hepatitis (LH).
The records of 283 SLE out-patients referred to our Unit between 1994 and 2008 were reviewed to identify clinical or laboratory evidence of liver involvement. Liver enzyme values were considered abnormal when a sustained increase in serum transaminase levels above the normal value was observed for a period of at least three months or when the increase was confirmed in two consecutive assessments. Study inclusion criteria were a follow-up of at least 12 months and three liver function tests per year over the course of disease.
A total of 242 patients with a mean follow-up of 72.2+/-59.1 months were identified. Liver enzyme abnormalities were observed in 45 (18.6%) patients. Of these, only 14 cases (5.8%) could be attributed to LH. Clinical course and response to therapy enabled the identification of three different patterns: remitting, unremitting and relapsing forms. Acute hepatitis and liver failure were not observed. Low serum alanine transaminase levels at diagnosis and high doses of prednisone were associated to resolution of LH. Clinical course or response to therapy did not appear to be affected by liver histology or serological findings.
LH is generally sub-clinical with a fluctuating course and responds well to moderate to high doses of prednisone without progression to end-stage liver disease.
Clinical and experimental rheumatology 01/2010; 28(4):504-10. · 2.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To assess the validity of the BASRI and m-SASSS scores for the radiological axial involvement in psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Secondary end-points were to report on clinical, functional and radiographic characteristics of axial involvement.
Inclusion criteria were satisfaction of the CASPAR criteria and the presence of clinical, functional and/or radiological axial involvement. Three observers scored the radiographs by BASRI and m-SASSS. The construct validity was assessed by examining the correlation of instruments with patient reported outcomes and anthropometric measures. The reliability and the feasibility of the scores were also considered.
Seventy-seven patients were enrolled (58 M, 19 F, mean age 49.4 + or - 10.8 yrs, disease duration 13.9 + or - 7.9 yrs). Both instruments showed some modest but significant correlation with clinical measures. When compared, the BASRI showed a correlation with BASMI (rho=0.47, p<0.001), cervical rotation (rho=-0.49, p<0.001), tragus to wall (rho=0.34, p<0.01) and occiput to wall (rho=0.49, p<0.001), modified Schober test (rho=-0.24, p<0.05) and RLDQ (rho=-0.24, p<0.05). When compared, m-SASSS showed a correlation with BASMI (rho=0.39, p<0.001), cervical rotation (rho=-0.41, p<0.001), tragus to wall (rho=0.31, p<0.01) and occiput to wall (rho=0.42, p<0.001), modified Schober and Schober test (rho=-0.34, p<0.001; rho= -0.32, p<0.01), finger to floor (rho=0.37, p<0.01). No correlation was found with BASFI, BASDAI and HAQ. Test-retest showed a good reliability of the scores. Both were feasible but BASRI was the quickest.
Our results showed that BASRI and m-SASSS were valid instruments for use in spondylitis associated with psoriatic arthritis. Longitudinal data is required to provide sensitivity to change of the two scores.
Clinical and experimental rheumatology 01/2009; 27(6):977-80. · 2.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hemorrhagic events due to production of antibodies directed against coagulation factors are rarely observed in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We report the case of a patient with clinically quiescent SLE who developed factor VIII inhibitor in acquired hemophilia presenting as hemarthrosis. Initial treatment with FVII, FVIII and FIX plasma concentrate, metilprednisolone and immunoglobulins i.v. were started but new hemorrhagic manifestation occurred. Plasma exchange was also administered, but it was discontinued early due to partial efficacy. In addition, pulse cyclophosphamide 0.5 g/m(2) was started. Eight weeks later, FVIII and FIX activity returned within normal ranges, FVIII and FIX inhibitors decreased significantly and hemorrhagic manifestations disappeared. The rare occurrence of acquired hemophilia due to the presence of anti-factor VIII antibodies associated to SLE, which was reviewed, might explain the lack of therapeutic guide-lines; indeed therapeutic options are available but the outcome in each single patient is not predictable.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To evaluate costs, benefits and cost-effectiveness of anti-TNF agents in PsA patients with inadequate response to conventional treatment.
A total of 107 patients, from nine Italian rheumatology centres, with different forms of PsA were given anti-TNF treatment, mainly etanercept (87%). Information on resource use, health-related quality of life, disease activity, function and laboratory values were collected at baseline and through out the 12 months of therapy. Cost (expressed in euro 2007) and utility (measured by EuroQol) before and after anti-TNF therapy initiation were compared in order to estimate the incremental cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained, and cost-effectiveness acceptability curve was calculated.
At the end of 12 months, there was a significant increase in direct cost due to an increase of drug cost caused by TNF inhibitors that was only partially offset by the decrease in indirect cost. In the last 6 months of therapy, the direct cost increased by euro5052, the cost for the National Health System (NHS) by euro5044 and the social cost by euro4638. However, a gain of 0.12 QALY resulted in a cost per QALY gained of euro40 876 for the NHS and of euro37 591 for the society. The acceptability curve showed that there would be a 97% likelihood that anti-TNF therapy would be considered cost-effective at willingness-to-pay threshold of euro60 000 per QALY gained.
Cost-effectiveness ratios are within the commonly accepted willingness-to-pay threshold. These results need to be confirmed in larger samples of patients.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The association of HLA-B27 with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is the strongest among all inflammatory diseases. However, the exact role of these molecules in disease pathogenesis is still unknown. The existence of HLA-B27 variants rarely found in patients introduces a further level of complexity. It is now accepted that other genes of minor impact contribute to modify disease susceptibility and these genes might be diverse in different populations depending on the genetic background. We report here a study performed in Sardinia, an outlier population in which two major HLA-B27 subtypes are present, B (*)2705 strongly associated with AS and B (*)2709 which is not, and show the co-occurrence of the B (*)2705 allele with a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mapping at 3'-UTR of the receptor 1 (VIPR1) for the vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), a neuropeptide with anti-inflammatory properties. This same SNP is associated with a different kinetics of down-modulation of the VIPR1 mRNA in monocytes after exposure to lipopolysaccharide (P=0.004). This particular setting, HLA-B (*)2705 and a functional polymorphism in VIPR1 gene, might be due to a founder effect or might be the result of a selective pressure. Irrespectively, the consequent downregulation of this receptor in the presence of a 'danger' signal might influence susceptibility to AS.
Genes and immunity 08/2008; 9(8):659-67. · 4.22 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in the setting of Psoriatic Arthritis is an additional variable to be considered in the therapeutic approach to the disease because of the complications of an immunosuppressive treatment in the course of a chronic infection and the possible hepatotoxicity of many drugs conventionally used to treat psoriatic arthritis. The case reported explores the therapeutic options in a patient with IFN-alpha-induced psoriatic arthritis, characterised by severe arthritis and psoriasis but also the concomitant presence of HCV chronic hepatitis, in light of the patient's concerns.