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Concept: Hydroxychloroquine

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Accompanying the increased use of biologic and non-biologic antirheumatic agents, patients with RA have been exposed to an increased risk of Pneumocystis jirovecii infection, which causes acute fulminant P. jirovecii pneumonia (PCP). Mortality in this population is higher than in HIV-infected individuals. Several guidelines and recommendations for HIV-infected individuals are available; however, such guidelines for RA patients remain less clear. Between 2006 and 2008 we encountered a clustering event of P. jirovecii infection among RA outpatients. Through our experience with this outbreak and a review of the recent medical literature regarding asymptomatic colonization and its clinical significance, transmission modes of infection and prophylaxis of PCP, we have learned the following lessons: PCP outbreaks among RA patients can occur through person-to-person transmission in outpatient facilities; asymptomatic carriers serve as reservoirs and sources of infection; and short-term prophylaxis for eradication of P. jirovecii is effective in controlling PCP outbreaks among RA outpatients.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatology, Methotrexate, Cyclophosphamide, Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug, Hydroxychloroquine, Sulfasalazine

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Background Few blinded trials have compared conventional therapy consisting of a combination of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs with biologic agents in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who have active disease despite treatment with methotrexate - a common scenario in the management of rheumatoid arthritis. Methods We conducted a 48-week, double-blind, noninferiority trial in which we randomly assigned 353 participants with rheumatoid arthritis who had active disease despite methotrexate therapy to a triple regimen of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (methotrexate, sulfasalazine, and hydroxychloroquine) or etanercept plus methotrexate. Patients who did not have an improvement at 24 weeks according to a prespecified threshold were switched in a blinded fashion to the other therapy. The primary outcome was improvement in the Disease Activity Score for 28-joint counts (DAS28, with scores ranging from 2 to 10 and higher scores indicating more disease activity) at week 48. Results Both groups had significant improvement over the course of the first 24 weeks (P=0.001 for the comparison with baseline). A total of 27% of participants in each group required a switch in treatment at 24 weeks. Participants in both groups who switched therapies had improvement after switching (P<0.001), and the response after switching did not differ significantly between the two groups (P=0.08). The change between baseline and 48 weeks in the DAS28 was similar in the two groups (-2.1 with triple therapy and -2.3 with etanercept and methotrexate, P=0.26); triple therapy was noninferior to etanercept and methotrexate, since the 95% upper confidence limit of 0.41 for the difference in change in DAS28 was below the margin for noninferiority of 0.6 (P=0.002). There were no significant between-group differences in secondary outcomes, including radiographic progression, pain, and health-related quality of life, or in major adverse events associated with the medications. Conclusions With respect to clinical benefit, triple therapy, with sulfasalazine and hydroxychloroquine added to methotrexate, was noninferior to etanercept plus methotrexate in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who had active disease despite methotrexate therapy. (Funded by the Cooperative Studies Program, Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research and Development, and others; CSP 551 RACAT ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00405275 .).

Concepts: Medicine, Rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatology, Methotrexate, Ankylosing spondylitis, Psoriatic arthritis, Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug, Hydroxychloroquine

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To compare persistence and adherence to triple therapy with nonbiologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) methotrexate (MTX), hydroxychloroquine, and sulfasalazine, versus a tumor necrosis factor inhibitor plus MTX (TNFi+MTX) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Concepts: Rheumatoid arthritis, Methotrexate, Arthritis, Tumor necrosis factor-alpha, Ankylosing spondylitis, Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug, Hydroxychloroquine, Sulfasalazine

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This study aims to measure the serum level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D(3) (25-OH-D(3)) in 302 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), studying the association to disease activity. Three hundred two RA patients underwent clinical examination and serological analysis. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D(3) was determined by high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Vitamin D(3) deficiency defined as serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D(3) below 50 nmol/l was detected in 101 RA patients (33.4 %). There was no significant correlation between the serum level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D(3) and Disease Activity Score 28 (DAS28) (3w) score. In a subpopulation of RA patients with very low serum level of 25-OH-D(3) (≤15 nmol/l) (n = 15), there were significant differences compared to patients with normal 25-OH-D(3) (n = 200): higher percentage of patients with positive rheumatoid factor (100.0 versus 77.5 %; p = 0.05), higher CRP (28.7 versus 14.8 mg/l; p = 0.001), higher number of patients treated with at least three disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) (40.0 versus 14.5 %; p = 0.02), higher number of patients with high disease activity DAS28 score of ≥5.1 (20.0 versus 4.5 %; p = 0.01), lower age (54.5 versus 64.0 years; p = 0.003) and shorter disease duration (5.1 versus 10.3 years; p = 0.06). Deficiency of 25-hydroxyvitamin D(3) was detected in 33.4 % of the RA patients. A subpopulation of patients with severe deficiency of vitamin D(3) serum level of ≤15 nmol/l was characterised by all being positive for rheumatoid factor, high percentage of patients with very high disease activity and high percentage of patients treated with at least three DMARDs.

Concepts: Immunology, Rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatology, Arthritis, Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug, Hydroxychloroquine, Rheumatoid factor

14

The aim of this report was to propose a definition for erosive disease in the context of inflammatory arthritis in light of the 2010 American College of Rheumatology (ACR)/European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) rheumatoid arthritis (RA) criteria for use in clinical practice and studies. A EULAR task force was formed including 16 rheumatologists and one rheumatology fellow. The process was both evidence based and consensus based, and included, between March 2010 and April 2012, analyses of data from two cohorts, two face-to-face meetings, one online voting and one teleconference. The Leiden Early Arthritis Cohort and the French ESPOIR cohort were used for the evidence-based part. The outcome measures, which were initiation of methotrexate therapy, or any disease-modifying antirheumatic drug therapy within the first year of disease and arthritis persistency over 5 years, were studied with the aim to give the best definition of erosive disease. A decision was made to select a definition with a high specificity and focus on patients who did not otherwise fulfil the 2010 ACR/EULAR RA criteria (<6 points). By a unanimous vote the following definition was selected: erosive disease for use in the 2010 ACR/EULAR RA classification criteria is defined when an erosion (defined as a cortical break) is seen in at least three separate joints at any of the following sites: the proximal interphalangeal, the metacarpophalangeal, the wrist (counted as one joint) and the metatarsophalangeal joints on radiographs of both hands and feet. A highly specific definition for erosive disease has thus been formulated.

Concepts: Rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatology, Osteoarthritis, Methotrexate, Arthritis, Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug, Septic arthritis, Hydroxychloroquine

13

Apremilast, an oral phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor, regulates inflammatory mediators. Psoriatic Arthritis Long-term Assessment of Clinical Efficacy 1 (PALACE 1) compared apremilast with placebo in patients with active psoriatic arthritis despite prior traditional disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) and/or biologic therapy.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Clinical trial, Rheumatoid arthritis, Placebo, Methotrexate, Psoriatic arthritis, Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug, Hydroxychloroquine

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Medications for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may affect survival. However, studies often include limited follow-up and do not account for selection bias in treatment allocation. Using a large longitudinal database, we examined the association between prednisone use and mortality in RA, and whether this risk was modified with concomitant disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) use, after controlling for propensity for treatment with prednisone and individual DMARDs.

Concepts: Immunology, Rheumatoid arthritis, Methotrexate, Cyclophosphamide, Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug, Hydroxychloroquine, Sulfasalazine, Sodium aurothiomalate

8

Clinical evidence demonstrates coadministration of tumour necrosis factor inhibitor (TNFi) agents and methotrexate (MTX) is more efficacious than administration of TNFi agents alone in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, leading to the perception that coadministration of MTX with all biologic agents or oral disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs is necessary for maximum efficacy. Real-life registry data reveal approximately one-third of patients taking biologic agents use them as monotherapy. Additionally, an analysis of healthcare claims data showed that when MTX was prescribed in conjunction with a biologic agent, as many as 58% of patients did not collect the MTX prescription. Given this discrepancy between perception and real life, we conducted a review of the peer-reviewed literature and rheumatology medical congress abstracts to determine whether data support biologic monotherapy as a treatment option for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Our analysis suggests only for tocilizumab is there evidence that the efficacy of biologic monotherapy is comparable with combination therapy with MTX.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Randomized controlled trial, Rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatology, Methotrexate, Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug, Hydroxychloroquine, Sulfasalazine

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To analyse the role of multibiomarker disease activity (MBDA) score in predicting disease relapses in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in sustained remission who tapered disease modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) therapy in RETRO, a prospective randomised controlled trial.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatology, Autoimmune diseases, Methotrexate, Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug, Hydroxychloroquine, Sulfasalazine