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עמוד בית
Sat, 20.04.24

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March 2024
Brittany Bass MD, Kuaybe Gulen MD, Liying Han MD PhD, Kassem Harris MD, Oleg Epelbaum MD FACP FCCP ATSF

A 69-year-old woman with a 30-year history of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on leflunomide presented with dizziness and weakness. Vital signs, cardiopulmonary auscultation, and laboratory studies were normal. The serological status of her RA was unknown. She exhibited ulnar deviation and swan-necking of the hands but no nodular skin lesions. She was an active smoker. Chest radiography revealed an opacity in the right lung. Computed tomography (CT) showed multiple pulmonary nodules and a dominant thick-walled cavitary mass in the periphery of the right lower lobe [Figure 1A]. Due to concern for a malignancy or infection, she underwent a bronchoscopy with a biopsy of the mass, which was non-diagnostic. A subsequent transthoracic needle biopsy demonstrated a central zone of necrosis surrounded by a cuff of palisading epithelioid histiocytes with the presence of occasional giant cells [Figure 1B]. There was no malignancy, and stains for micro-organisms were negative. In this clinical context, biopsy results were consistent with a pulmonary rheumatoid nodule (PRN).

October 2023
Andreza Rosa Cabral MS, Josy Davidson PhD, Jozélio Freire de Carvalho MD PhD

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune chronic inflammatory disease characterized by synovitis leading to polyarthritis. It affects 1% of the population [1]. Genetic and environmental factors are linked to the development of RA and include the presence of HLA-DR4 and shared epitope, and smoking is the primary representative of the negative environmental factor [1].

However, RA mainly affects middle age. Late-onset RA that initiates after 60 years is sometimes named elderly onset rheumatoid arthritis (EORA) [2]. This disease's prevalence varied from 2.03% to 2.34% in a large study in the United States. EORA affects more women than men [1]. However, to the best of our knowledge, no patient description of RA initiated at 97 years of age has been described.

November 2021
Ilaria Duca MD, Bruno Lucchino MD, Francesca Romana Spinelli MD PhD, Alessio Altobelli MD, Carmelo Pirone MD, Chiara Gioia MD, Guido Valesini MD, Fabrizio Conti MD PhD, and Manuela Di Franco MD

Background: In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), females usually have a worse prognosis. To date, the influence of physician gender in the evaluation of RA activity is still largely unknown.

Objectives: To investigate the discrepancy in RA disease activity assessment between male and female physicians and to compare patient and evaluator perception of disease activity and global health (GH) status.

Methods: One female and one male rheumatologist evaluated 154 RA patients recording tender and swollen joint count, GH, evaluator global assessment (EGA), and patient global assessment (PGA) disease activity. A third rheumatologist calculated DAS28, CDAI, and SDAI. Difference was evaluated by Wilcoxon test. Physician–patient agreement was assessed by intraclass correlation coefficient.

Results: GH, PGA, and DAS28 were higher when recorded by the female examiner. Male EGA was higher than female. Among male patients, PGA was higher when collected by the female examiner. The probability of being judged as having an active disease did not rely on physician gender. The agreement with the physician’s evaluation of disease activity was high. PGA values were higher than EGA in both examiners. The physician–patient agreement was moderate for the male examiner and good for the female. The female physician had a higher agreement with both genders.

Conclusions: Subjective measure of disease activity differs between female and male rheumatologists, contributing to a different evaluation of disease activity. Patients have a higher perception of disease activity compared to physicians. The stronger agreement between female physicians and patients may be related to a more emphatic setting established by the female physician

October 2021
Rotem Shpatz MD, Yolanda Braun-Moscovici MD, and Alexandra Balbir-Gurman MD

Background: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory and destructive joint disease with the presence of autoantibodies, rheumatoid factor (RF), and anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA). The presence of RF or ACPA predicts RA severity. Data on the influence of ACPA titer on RA course are limited.

Objectives: To determine the correlation between ACPA titers at the time of RA diagnosis to RA features and severity during 3 years of follow-up.

Methods: We performed a retrospective study of RA patients treated at our institution during the years 2006–2015 with known ACPA titers at RA diagnosis who completed at least 3 years of follow-up. Patients (N=133) were divided according to ACPA titer: seronegative (< 15 U/ml, n=55), weakly positive (15–49 U/ml, n=18), moderately positive (50–300 U/ml, n=29), and strongly positive (> 300 U/ml, n=31). Patient data, including disease activity score (DAS28), bone erosion on hand and/or foot X-rays, treatments with corticosteroids and disease-modifying-anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and hospitalizations, were recorded. Chi-square and Mann-Whitney method were used for statistical analysis. P < 0.05 was considered as statistically significant.

Results: Male gender, smoking, and RF positivity correlated with ACPA positivity and higher ACPA titers. There was no correlation between ACPA titer and the variables defined as representing RA severity: higher DAS28, bone erosions, hospitalizations, need for corticosteroids, and conventional and biological DMARDs.

Conclusions: Titer of ACPA was not identified as a predictive factor for RA severity

June 2021
Fabiola Atzeni MD PhD, Elisabetta Gerratana MD, Sara Bongiovanni MD, Rossella Talotta MD PhD, Gianfranco Miceli MD, Fausto Salaffi MD PhD, and Piercarlo Sarzi-Puttini MD

Background: There is a lack of real-life clinical data for biosimilar etanercept, an anti-TNF blocking fusion protein. We describe the comparable efficacy and safety of originator and biosimilar etanercept in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients in a real-life clinical setting. Our data confirm that a biosimilar etanercept can be safely used as first-line treatment as well as in patients switched from a previous originator compound.

Objectives: To compare the efficacy and safety of originator and biosimilar etanercept in a cohort of RA patients attending two Italian hospitals.

Methods: The study involved 81 consecutive adult RA patients treated for at least 6 months with originator or biosimilar etanercept and considered their clinical and laboratory data, concomitant medications, and adverse events at baseline, and after 3 and 6 months of treatment.

Results: Group 1 included 51 patients taking originator etanercept; group 2 included 30 taking biosimilar etanercept, including 19 who had been switched from the reference product. Despite a significant baseline difference in clinical disease activity, one-way analysis of variance showed that the two groups were clinically comparable after 6 months of treatment, and the same was true when only those receiving etanercept as first-line biological treatment were considered. Nine patients discontinued the treatment due to inefficacy or adverse events, which were never serious and were only reported in group 1.

Conclusions: The efficacy and safety profiles of originator and biosimilar etanercept are comparable in RA patients in a real-life clinical setting. Further studies are needed to confirm these preliminary findings

September 2020
Pnina Langevitz MD, Merav Lidar MD, Itzhak Rosner MD, Joy Feld MD, Moshe Tishler MD, Howard Amital MD, Suhail Aamar MD, Ori Elkayam MD, Alexandra Balbir-Gurman MD, Mahmoud Abu-Shakra MD, Dror Mevorach MD, Oded Kimhi MD, Yair Molad MD, Ana Kuperman MD and Sharon Ehrlich MD

Background: Tocilizumab is an interleukin 6 (IL-6) receptor antagonist used treat moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Both intravenous (IV) and subcutaneous (SC) routes are approved for the treatment of adults with RA.

Objectives: To evaluate SC tocilizumab in a real-life clinical setting.

Methods: Our study was a multi-center, open-label, single-arm study. Participants were adults with a diagnosis of active RA, previously treated with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), with or without biologic agents. Participants received a weekly SC injection of tocilizumab 162 mg as monotherapy or in combination with methotrexate or DMARDs for 24 weeks. Efficacy, safety, and immunogenicity were assessed.

Results: Treatment of 100 patients over 24 weeks resulted in improvement in all efficacy parameters assessed: Clinical Disease Activity Index, Disease Activity Score using 28 joint counts and erythrocyte sedimentation rate, American College of Rheumatology response scores, Simplified Disease Activity Index, tender and swollen joint counts, and patient-reported outcomes including fatigue, global assessment of disease activity, pain, and Health Assessment Quality of Life Disease Index. Improvement was achieved as early as the second week of treatment. There were 473 adverse events (AEs)/100 patient-years (PY) and 16.66 serious AEs/100 PY. The most common AEs were neutropenia (12%), leukopenia (11%), and increased hepatic enzymes (11%). Of a total of 42 PY, the rates of serious infections and AEs leading to discontinuation were 4.8, and 11.9 events/100 PY, respectively.

Conclusions: The safety, tolerability, and efficacy profile of tocilizumab SC were comparable to those reported in other studies evaluating the IV and SC routes of administration.

 

July 2020
Attila Kovács, Anita Cserenyecz, Beáta Baksay, Éva Kemény and Zoltán Szekanecz
March 2020
Yonatan Edel, Iftach Sagy, Elisheva Pokroy-Shapira, Shirly Oren, Ariela Dortort Lazar, Mohammad Egbaria, Shachaf Shiber, Bat Sheva Tal and Yair Molad

Background: Guidelines recommend initiation of parenteral biologic or oral target-specific disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARDs/tsDMARDs) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients who do not adequately respond to conventional DMARDs.

Objectives: To compare the preferred route of administration of bDMARDs or tsDMARDs in RA patients who were previously treated with at least one type.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted of consecutive RA patients previously prescribed bDMARDs or tsDMARDs. We analyzed the factors associated with patients' preferred route of administration.

Results: The cohort included 95 patients, mostly female (72.6%), seropositive (81.05%), mean age 63.4 ± 11.9 years. The oral route was preferred by 39 patients (41%) and 56 (59%) preferred the parenteral route. Most patients (65.9%) preferred to continue with their current route (P < 0.001). Switching from a current route was less common with patients who were currently using the oral route (13.3% vs. 38.2%, P = 0.04). Many patients (53.8%) who preferred the oral route had never experienced it before, while this was rare (3.6%) regarding the parenteral route (P = 0.0001). Employment status was associated with preference of the subcutaneous route over the intravenous route of bDMARDs (P = 0.01). Of the 21 patients who had previously experienced both parenteral and oral treatment, 16 (76.2%) preferred the oral route.

Conclusions: RA patients preferred to continue treatment with an administration route they have already experienced. However, when choosing an unexperienced route, significantly more patients preferred the oral route. Our results strengthen the understanding of patient preferences, which could improve drug adherence, compliance, and disease outcome.

Fabrizio Cantini MD PhD, Laura Niccoli MD, Giulia Franchi MD, Arianna Damiani MD and Maurizio Benucci MD

We describe the features of nocebo, and its impact in studies of transition from the originator to the respective biosimilar in inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Investigations in healthy volunteers as well as in the neurology and anesthesiology fields demonstrated the involved cerebral areas and the neurotransmitter pathways responsible for the nocebo response. Whether these findings are applicable to patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases remains to be demonstrated. Nocebo may account for part of the after-switching biosimilar failures. However, in the absence of validated classification or diagnostic criteria, specific neurochemical and neuroimaging studies, the lack of data on serum tumor necrosis factor and drug levels, and the disease improvement after the switching back to the originator biologic observed in some patients, the nocebo diagnosis remains the role of the individual clinician. Investigations on nocebo pathophysiology and diagnosis are required to address its impact in after-transition biosimilar studies in rheumatology.

July 2019
Giacomo Cafaro MD, Elena Bartoloni MD, Alessia Alunno MD PhD, Onelia Bistoni BSc, Sabrina Cipriani PhD, Fabiana Topini PhD and Roberto Gerli MD

Platelets have the ability to influence the immune system and the inflammatory process and may be strongly involved in the whole pathogenic process of chronic inflammatory joint diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. They may play a significant role even before the clinical onset of the disease, contributing to the loss of tolerance of the immune system and the induction of autoimmunity. Subsequently, they can interact with the most important cellular players involved in autoimmunity and inflammation, namely innate immunity cells and T cells and eventually contribute to the building of inflammation in the synovium, thus inducing the activation, migration, and proliferation of fibroblasts that eventually lead to joint damage. Due to their peculiar features, studying the behavior of platelets is a challenging task; however, platelets may prove to be valuable therapeutic targets in the future.

Mohammad Adawi MD MHA, Sabbah Firas MD and Arnon Blum MD

Inflammation is the basic mechanism leading to many pathological processes, including degenerative diseases, atherosclerosis, and cancer. We found an interesting link connecting rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis that may explain the high cardiovascular event rate among patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but also may lead to a new way of thinking and a better understanding of atherosclerosis. Rheumatoid arthritis could serve as a model of accelerated atherosclerosis. Understanding the basic mechanisms of rheumatoid arthritis may solve some of the complexity of atherosclerosis.

May 2019
Nadja Kobold MD, Barbara Jenko PhD, Matija Tomšič MD PhD, Vita Dolžan MD PhD and Sonja Praprotnik MD PhD

Background: Methotrexate is the most frequently administered first-line treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The disease-modifying effects of methotrexate are mainly associated with enhanced release of free adenosine. The downstream anti-inflammatory effects of adenosine are mediated via its binding to adenosine receptor 2A (ADORA2A) and 3 (ADORA3). Many clinically important single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were reported in ADORA2A and ADORA3 genes.

Objectives: To investigate whether tagging ADORA2A and ADORA3 polymorphisms influences methotrexate treatment in RA.

Methods: In total, 212 RA patients treated with methotrexate were genotyped for tagging ADORA2A (rs2298383, rs8141793, rs2236624, rs5751876, rs35320474, and rs17004921) and ADORA3 SNPs (rs2298191, rs1544223, rs78594984, rs35511654, rs2229155, rs3393, and rs3394).

Results: RA patients who carried ADORA3 rs35511654 G allele showed a tendency toward better response to methotrexate treatment (P = 0.054). Carriers of ADORA2A polymorphic allele rs2298383 (P = 0.011), rs2236624 (P = 0.027), rs5751876 (P = 0.018), and rs35320474 (P = 0.026) were less likely to experience methotrexate induced adverse events. All associations remained significant after adjustment for clinical factors. The effects of these polymorphisms were also significant in haplotype analyses.

Conclusions: Polymorphisms in the ADORA2A gene may influence methotrexate treatment response and may be considered as a potential biomarker for methotrexate treatment in rheumatoid arthritis.

 

October 2018
Adi Guy MD, Kassem Sharif MD, Nicola Luigi Bragazzi MD PhD, Alec Krosser MD, Boris Gilburd PhD, Eleanor Zeruya MD, Ora Shovman MD, Abdulla Watad MD and Howard Amital MD MHA

Background: Patients with rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS), encounter significantly higher rates of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system maintains hemodynamic stability through blood pressure regulation. When dysregulated, this system has been implicated in various pathological conditions, including cardiovascular events.

Objectives: To investigate the levels of renin and aldosterone in RA and AS patients.

Methods: Three groups were recruited: patients with RA, patients with AS, and healthy controls. Subjects were excluded if they had a diagnosis of hypertension, hyperaldosteronism, or renal artery stenosis, or were taking drugs that might have affected renin levels. Renin and aldosterone levels were measured using commercially available kits. Data were analyzed using univariate analyses and multivariate regression analyses.

Results: Fifty-one subjects were enrolled in the study: 15 with RA, 4 with AS, and 32 healthy controls. At the univariate analysis, the three groups differed in age (P = 0.005), renin levels (P = 0.013), and aldosterone-to-renin ratio (P = 0.019). At the post-hoc tests, both AS and RA patients differed from controls for renin levels and the aldosterone-to-renin ratio. At the multivariate regression analysis, AS patients had lower renin values than controls (beta standardized regression coefficient -0.323, P = 0.022).

Conclusion: Patients with RA tended to have lower levels of plasma renin compared to healthy subjects. This finding indicates that the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system might not be directly involved in the process that results in increased cardiovascular events in rheumatoid arthritis.

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