Alexandra Balbir-Gurman

Rambam Medical Center, H̱efa, Haifa, Israel

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Publications (79)222.04 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Scleroderma lung disease (ILD-SSc) is treated mainly with cyclophosphamide (CYC). The effectiveness of CYC was judged after 12-24 months in most reports. To analyze the effect of monthly intravenous CYC on pulmonary function tests including forced vital capacity (FVC) and diffusing lung capacity (DLCO), as well as Rodnan skin score (mRSS), during long-term follow-up. We retrospectively collected the data on 26 ILD-SSc patients who began CYC treatments before 2007. Changes in FVC, DLCO and mRSS before treatment, and at 1,4 and 7 years after completion of at least six monthly intravenous CYC treatments for ILD-SSc were analyzed. Mean cumulative CYC dose was 8.91 ± 3.25 G. More than 30% reduction in FVC (0%, 8%, and 31% of patients), DLCO (15%, 23%, 31%), and mRSS (31%, 54%, 62%) at years 1, 4 and 7 was registered. During the years 0-4 and 4-7, annual changes in FVC, DLCO and mRSS were 3.2 vs. 0.42% (P < 0.040), 4.6 vs. 0.89% (P < 0.001), and 1.8 vs. 0.2 (P = 0.002). The greatest annual FVC and DLCO reduction over the first 4 years correlated with mortality (P = 0.022). There were no differences in the main variables regarding doses of CYC (< 6 G and > 6 G). In patients with ILD-SSc, CYC stabilized the reduction of FVC during treatment, but this effect was not persistent. The vascular characteristic of ILD-SSc (DLCO) was not affected by CYC treatment. CYC rapidly improved the mRSS. This effect could be achieved with at least 6 G of CYC. Higher rates of annual reduction in FVC and DLCO in the first 4 years indicate the narrow window of opportunity and raise the question regarding ongoing immunosuppression following CYC infusions.
    The Israel Medical Association journal: IMAJ 03/2015; 17(3):150-6. · 0.90 Impact Factor
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    Alexander P Rozin, Kohava Toledano, Amir Dagan, Alexandra Balbir-Gurman
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    ABSTRACT: Background The aim of this study was to measure glenohumeral joint (GHJ) parameters via the anterior access through ultrasound and to compare to data from posterior and inferior accesses. Material/Methods Twenty healthy controls (M: F=15: 5, aged 45.1±11.2 years) and 16 patients (M: F=5: 11, aged 54.6±14.7 years) with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (DAS 28 4.6±1.2) were investigated (SonoSite-Titan). To make the GHJ visible on the anterior access, we used the original GHJ opening maneuver. The GHJ width was measured for every transducer position at 2 points. The positions were: posterior transversal, inferior longitudinal, anterior longitudinal along the articular line, anterior transversal upper, middle and lower. The joint width included thickness of cartilage plus synovial fluid/pannus. Rotator interval (RI) width and height (upper biceps channel) were measured. Results Our normal GHJ values by posterior and inferior accesses were within previously estimated values (<2 mm and <3 mm, respectively). We acquired the first values of GHJ width from the anterior access. The last were within a range of 0.7–1.7 mm for healthy controls. Patients with RA showed significantly enlarged joint cavities. RI was not inflamed. Posterior and inferior data of GHJ width were significantly correlated (p=0.01). The data did not correlate with anterior values (p=+0.44, p=−0.56). Synovitis was much more prominent in posterior, upper anterior transversal, and anterior longitudinal accesses. Conclusions The GHJ may be visualized by anterior access using a special maneuver. Synovitis in the anterior region of the GHJ may develop at an independent rate. Anterior GHJ sonography may be complementary to the classic access.
    Medical science monitor: international medical journal of experimental and clinical research 02/2015; 21:533-41. DOI:10.12659/MSM.892520 · 1.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A 19-year old previously healthy man developed the adult-onset Still's disease (AOSD) with high ferritin levels. Corticosteroids induced clinical remission with resolution of fever, arthritis, and rash. While tapering corticosteroids, the patient developed severe liver enzymes elevation, very high ferritin levels and, subsequently, acute liver failure. After other causes of liver disease (infections, metabolic, autoimmune hepatitis, lymphoma, and hemophagocytosis) were excluded, severe hepatitis was attributed to AOSD itself. Cyclosporine induced rapid normalization of liver enzymes and reduction in ferritin levels. Severe hepatitis and very high ferritin levels could be the only manifestation of disease activity in AOSD; therefore, monitoring of liver enzymes and ferritin levels is recommended even after resolution of the clinical symptoms of AOSD. Prompt initiation of cyclosporine can improve liver function and prevent progression to liver failure.
    Clinical Rheumatology 11/2014; DOI:10.1007/s10067-014-2829-2 · 1.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: Infusions of aminobisphonates (ABP) activate Vγ9δ2T cells in vivo and induce an acute inflammatory response in 30% of patients treated for osteoporosis. Following the observation of digital thrombosis in a systemic sclerosis (SSc) patient after treatment with an intravenous ABP, zoledronate (Zol), we evaluated whether patient and control peripheral blood (PB) mononuclear cell (MC, PBMC) acquire a prothrombotic phenotype in response to Zol.Results: Vγ9δ2T cells of both patients and healthy donors (HD) upregulated the CD69 activation antigen and secreted tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α in response to Zol in vitro. In addition, exposure to either Zol or lipopolysaccharide (LPS), or to both additively, induced expression of the highly procoagulant, tissue factor (TF)-1 on CD14+ monocytes. Importantly, only Zol-induced TF-1 was blocked by a monoclonal antibody to TNFα. Interestingly, we found that SSc, but not HD, Vδ1+ T cells were concurrently activated by Zol to produce interleukin (IL)-4. Addition of plasma from the blood of the SSc patient who developed critical digital ischemia after infusion of Zol, but neither plasma from a second patient with no adverse clinical response to Zol infusion nor of a HD, strongly enhanced Zol-induced monocyte TF-1, which could still be blocked by anti-TNFα.Conclusion: Aminobisphonates induced secretion of TNFα by Vγ9δ2+ T cells may lead to TNFα-dependent induction of procoagulant TF-1 induction on monocytes. In certain clinical settings, e.g., SSc, TF-1+ monocytes could play a role in triggering clinically relevant thrombosis.
    Frontiers in Immunology 09/2014; 5:414. DOI:10.3389/fimmu.2014.00414
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    ABSTRACT: A 44-year-old woman diagnosed with dermatomyositis 5 years ago based on progressive proximal muscle weakness, elevated creatine kinase, typical findings on electromyography and muscle biopsy. Despite the treatment, in contrast to improvement in her muscle symptoms, the heliotrope rash of her eyelids persisted. After several years, the patient developed multiple limited skin retraction lesions with hyperpigmentation on both lower limbs. Palpation of these lesions revealed dry, cold and very firm skin on both thighs and calves, particularly in the distal areas. X-ray and ultrasound imaging of the calves showed multiple subcutaneous calcifications in the distal muscles.
    Case Reports 08/2014; 2014. DOI:10.1136/bcr-2014-204521
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    ABSTRACT: The objective of the study was to combine ultrasonographic (US) with clinical findings for comparing the effect of adalimumab (ADA) to methotrexate (MTX) on the thickness of tendons and enthesis in psoriatic arthritis (PsA) patients. Forty-three consecutive PsA patients were examined at baseline and after 6 and 12 weeks of treatment with ADA or MTX. The US assessment included thickness measurement of the extensor (ET) and flexor tendons (FT) of the second and third finger of both hands, plantar aponeurosis (PA) and the Achilles tendon (AT) bilaterally. Disease activity (DA) was assessed by the number of tender (TJ) and swollen joints (SJ), the number of inflamed enthesis (IE), pain assessment (PAI), and patient (PDAI) and physician (PHDAI) disease activity evaluations by visual activity score (VAS). Nineteen patients received MTX and 24 patients received ADA. All DA parameters improved in both groups. A decrease in thickness of tendons and enthesis was observed only in the ADA group, reaching a level of significance for the left AT (p = 0.01), left PA (p = 0.007), the second left FT (p = 0.04) and the third ET (p = 0.04). ADA patients showed a trend towards a better response to treatment compared to MTX patients that reach significance at week 6 of treatment for the thickness of left AT (p = 0.04), left PA (p = 0.03), the number of TJ (p = 0.0136), PAI (p = 0.0028), and PDAI (p = 0.029). ADA treatment for PsA compared to MTX significantly improved signs of DA and several US parameters. US assessment of enthesis can be an additional useful tool in the monitoring of psoriatic enthesopathy.
    Clinical Rheumatology 07/2014; DOI:10.1007/s10067-014-2753-5 · 1.77 Impact Factor
  • A. P. Rozin, K. Toledano, A. Dagan, A. Balbir-Gurman
    Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 06/2014; 73(Suppl 2):1112-1112. DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-eular.2010 · 9.27 Impact Factor
  • Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 06/2014; 73(Suppl 2):439-439. DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-eular.3629 · 9.27 Impact Factor
  • Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 06/2014; 73(Suppl 2):571-572. DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2014-eular.3613 · 9.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody directed against the CD20 antigen on the surface of normal and malignant B lymphocytes. Its use in autoimmune conditions is rapidly expanding. Late-onset neutropenia (LON) is a well-recognized side effect of rituximab therapy in lymphoma patients. Only a small number of cases of LON have been reported in patients with autoimmune disorders. The aim of this work is to review cases in Israel and to compare them to published cases in the literature thus adding to the body of knowledge regarding this unusual phenomenon. Members of the Israeli Rheumatology Association were encountered by e-mail, requesting reports of cases of LON after therapy with rituximab. Submitted cases were reviewed, with demographics and clinical data collated and tabled. Current cases were compared to previously published rheumatology cases. Twelve episodes of LON following rituximab therapy were reported. All patients were female with an average age of 50 years (range 22-78). LON occurred at an average of 155 days after therapy (range 71-330). The average leukocyte count was1,456 white cells, with an average of 413 neutrophils (range 0-1,170 neutrophils). Three of the patients underwent bone marrow biopsies which showed white cell line maturation arrest with an increased number of lymphocytes. No blasts were seen. Our results add support to the growing evidence that this adverse event usually follows a benign course and is not an absolute contraindication for repeat treatment if required in the future. However, vigilance is recommended with routine periodic blood counts, especially 5 months following rituximab administration when the risk is expected to be the highest.
    Clinical Rheumatology 03/2014; 33(9). DOI:10.1007/s10067-014-2562-x · 1.77 Impact Factor
  • Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 01/2014; 72(Suppl 3):A503-A503. DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-eular.1512 · 9.27 Impact Factor
  • Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 01/2014; 72(Suppl 3):A442-A443. DOI:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-eular.1334 · 9.27 Impact Factor
  • The Israel Medical Association journal: IMAJ 08/2013; 15(8):453-5. · 0.90 Impact Factor
  • The Israel Medical Association journal: IMAJ 04/2013; 15(4):195-7. · 0.90 Impact Factor
  • Ap Rozin, R Hoffman, T Hayek, A Balbir-Gurman
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    ABSTRACT: Felty's syndrome (FS) is characterized by neutropenia and splenomegaly in patients with seropositive (RF+, anti-CCP+) rheumatoid arthritis (RA). As a result of neutropenia, affected persons are increasingly susceptible to infections. In the majority of patients, FS appears in the course of long-standing and well-established RA. Manifestations of FS without clinical but only with laboratory features of RA are extremely rare. We present a case of severe neutropenia and mild splenomegaly in a patient with high titers of RF and anti-CCP. For 4 years, patient's neutropenia remained asymptomatic. The neutropenia reduction to agranulocytosis was followed by successful methotrexate-corticosteroid therapy. Efficacy of the standard anti-RA therapy confirmed autoimmune mechanism of the Felty's neutropenia. The most important lesion from our case is to recognize this condition in the range of autoimmune rheumatic diseases without delay. We reviewed literature with non-articular FS.
    Clinical Rheumatology 01/2013; 32(5). DOI:10.1007/s10067-012-2157-3 · 1.77 Impact Factor
  • 01/2013; 1(1):3. DOI:10.7243/2052-6954-1-3
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    ABSTRACT: Rituximab (RTX) is a chimeric anti-CD20 antibody, approved for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients who failed anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor therapy. It has been used occasionally for life-threatening autoimmune diseases (AID). We report our center experience in the use of RTX in life-threatening complications or refractory AID. Clinical charts of patients treated with RTX at our center were reviewed, cases treated for life-threatening complications or refractory AID were analyzed. Acute damage to vital organs such as lung, heart, kidney, nervous system with severe functional impairment were defined as life-threatening complications; treatment failure with high-dose corticosteroids, cyclophosphamide, IVIG, plasmapheresis was defined as refractory autoimmune disease. During the years 2003-2009, 117 patients were treated with RTX, most of them for RA. Nine patients (6 females, mean age 51.5 years, mean disease duration 6.3 years) answered the criteria. The indications were as follows: pulmonary hemorrhage (1 patient with cryoglobulinemic vasculitis, 1 with systemic sclerosis, 1 with ANCA-associated vasculitis), catastrophic anti-phospholipid syndrome (2 SLE patients), non-bacterial endocarditis and pulmonary hypertension (1 patient with mixed connective tissue disease), vasculitis and feet necrosis (1 patient with systemic lupus erythematosus), severe lupus demyelinative neuropathy and acute renal failure (1patient), and severe rheumatoid lung disease with recurrent empyema and pneumothorax (1patient). B cell depletion was achieved in all patients. The median time since starting of complications to RTX administration was 3 weeks (range 2-15 weeks). Complete remission (suppression of the hazardous situation and return to previous stable state) was seen in 7 out of 9 patients. Partial remission (significant improvement) was achieved in the remained. The median time to response was 3 weeks (range 1-8 weeks), mean follow-up 47.2 months (range 6-60 months). A rapid tapering off of steroids was achieved in all patients. Two patients relapsed and were successfully retreated with RTX: the patient with severe RA lung relapsed after 3 years, one of the patients with ANCA-associated pulmonary alveolar hemorrhage relapsed after 10 months. There were no side effects during RTX infusion. Two episodes of serious infections were registered: fatal Gram-negative sepsis 6 months after RTX treatment, and septic discitis 4 months after receiving RTX. RTX serves as a safe, efficient, and prompt rescue therapy in certain life-threatening conditions and resistant to aggressive immunosuppression AID. RTX when administrated at an earlier stage, prevented irreversible vital organ damage, and allowed rapid steroid tapering off in already severe immunodepressed patients.
    Rheumatology International 12/2012; 33(6). DOI:10.1007/s00296-012-2587-x · 1.63 Impact Factor
  • Alexandra Balbir-Gurman, Yolanda Braun-Moscovici
    The Israel Medical Association journal: IMAJ 12/2012; 14(12):757-9. · 0.90 Impact Factor
  • Alexander P Rozin, Kohava Toledano, Alexandra Balbir-Gurman
    The Journal of Rheumatology 12/2012; 39(12):2361. DOI:10.3899/jrheum.120771 · 3.17 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: To assess the association between treatment with anti-tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) agents and the occurrence of hospitalizations, their causes and complications, compared to treatment with traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and ankylosing spondylitis (AS). METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was conducted of patients with RA, AS, and PsA treated with anti-TNF-α agents between April 2002 and December 2007. Patients were assessed during the period of anti-TNF-α treatment (Group B) and compared to an equivalent period before initiation of anti-TNF-α therapy (Group A). All hospitalization charts were reviewed and diagnoses, comorbidities, concomitant medications, and clinical course were analyzed. Statistical analysis was performed using multivariate mixed Poisson regression. RESULTS: In the study period of 57 months, 735 hospitalization events of 327 patients were analyzed. Statistically significant decreases were seen in the total number of hospitalization events as well as hospitalizations due to exacerbation of rheumatic diseases in Group B compared to Group A (44.4 vs 74.2 and 21.9 vs 47.5 per 100 patient-years, respectively; p < 0.0001). More infectious events (7.4 in Group B compared to 4.6 per 100 patient-years in Group A; p = 0.043) were associated with anti-TNF-α treatment, older age, and underlying disease, because patients with RA had higher rates of infections compared to patients with PsA and patients with AS. CONCLUSION: The overall effect of anti-TNF-α therapy was a significant decline in total hospitalization events. The decrease was more prominent in patients with RA than in patients with AS and patients with PsA, and reflected the significant decrease in hospitalizations due to rheumatic disease exacerbation. The decrease was more pronounced than the observed increase in infectious events.
    The Journal of Rheumatology 10/2012; 40(1). DOI:10.3899/jrheum.111516 · 3.17 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

807 Citations
222.04 Total Impact Points


  • 1999–2015
    • Rambam Medical Center
      • Department of Rheumatology
      H̱efa, Haifa, Israel
  • 1999–2012
    • Technion - Israel Institute of Technology
      • Rambam Medical Center
      H̱efa, Haifa, Israel
  • 2008–2011
    • Ministry of Health (Israel)
      Yerushalayim, Jerusalem District, Israel