• IMA sites
  • IMAJ services
  • IMA journals
  • Doctors card
  • Follow us
  • Alternate Text Alternate Text
עמוד בית
Wed, 26.01.22

August 2017

Original Articles
Paola Conigliaro MD PhD, Paola Triggianese MD PhD, Maria Sole Chimenti MD PhD, Marco Tonelli MD, Flavia Sunzini MD, Barbara Kroegler MD and Roberto Perricone MD

Background: The goals of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are remission and low disease activity (LDA). However, many patients do not reach or maintain these targets with regard to disease control. 

Objective: To identify predictive factors of remission/LDA in a cohort of RA patients who started treatment with first line tumor necrosis factor-inhibitors (TNF-i). 

Methods: We included 308 RA patients treated with first line TNF-i for 2 years to evaluate remission/LDA based on the 28-joint disease activity score (DAS28). Predictive factors considered for achievement of remission/LDA were: gender, age at the time of TNF-i treatment, early arthritis, baseline C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate levels, RF/anti-citrullinated protein antibody positivity, good/moderate European League Against Rheumatism response at 6 months, co-morbidities, and concomitant disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Intention to treat, receiver operating characteristic curve, and univariate and multivariate analyses by logistic regression were performed. 

Results: Positive predictors of remission/LDA in both the univariate and the multivariate analyses were: male gender, age at the time of TNF-i treatment ≤ 54 years, negative baseline CRP, and concomitant DMARDs. The presence of any co-morbidity resulted to be a negative predictor of remission/LDA in both the univariate and the multivariate analyses. 

Conclusions: Demographic and clinical features were identified as reliable predictors of both the achievement and the maintenance of treatment targets in a cohort of RA patients treated for 2 years with first line TNF-i. 


Paola Triggianese MD PhD, Paola Conigliaro MD PhD, Maria Sole Chimenti MD PhD, Carmen Barbato MD, Elisabetta Greco MD, Barbara Kroegler MD, Caterina De Carolis MD and Roberto Perricone, MD

Background: Evidence has shown that pregnancy failure (PF) in women with systemic sclerosis (SSc) consists mainly of preterm delivery (PD) and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Thyroid dysfunction (TD) and Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT) represent a common feature of SSc. Since TD has been associated with PF, its presence in SSc women may potentially affect pregnancy outcome. 

Objectives: To analyze the interplay between TD and PF in a cohort of SSc women. 

Methods: SSc women (n=77) and age-matched controls from the general obstetric population (n=50) were included. Clinical/biochemical/instrumental data exploring TD and the visceral involvement were collected in the context of a clinical practice setting. Pregnancy outcome was assessed by registering the history of primary infertility, recurrent spontaneous abortion, PD (≤ 37 gestational week), IUGR, and intrauterine fetal death. 

Results: A higher prevalence of PD/IUGR was recorded in the SSc cohort than the controls (P = 0.04). SSc women with PF showed a higher prevalence of diffuse SSc than women without PF (P = 0.03). Scl-70 positive SSc women had a higher prevalence of PF than women with anti-centromere positivity (P = 0.01). A higher prevalence of HT was recorded in SSc women with PF than in patients without (P = 0.04). 

Conclusions: Our findings support the evidence that women with SSc can have successful pregnancies despite a higher prevalence of PD/IUGR. Diffuse SSc and Scl-70 positivity may predispose SSc women to PF. Routine thyroid workup may be included in the multi-specialist monitoring of SSc women for the early detection of thyroid dysfunctions.


Claudia Fabiani MD PhD, Antonio Vitale MD, Ida Orlando MD, Marco Capozzoli MD, Fiorella Fusco MD, Francesco Rana MD, Rossella Franceschini MD PhD, Jurgen Sota MD, Bruno Frediani MD PhD, Mauro Galeazzi MD PhD, Gian Marco Tosi MD PhD, Luca Cantarini MD PhD

Background: Non-infectious uveitis (NIU) leads to severe visual impairment, potentially impacting on health-related quality of life (QoL). 

Objectives: To investigate the impact of NIU on QoL.

Methods: Eighty NIU patients and 23 healthy controls completed the 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF)-36. The SF-36 values were statistically analyzed to evaluate differences between patients and healthy controls and to identify correlations between SF-36 subscores and clinical/demographic data. 

Results: NIU patients showed a decrease in the physical component summary score (P < 0.0001) compared to healthy controls, while no difference was highlighted in the mental component summary score (P = 0.97). NIU patients showed a decrease in physical functioning (P = 0.008), role-physical (P = 0.003), bodily pain (P = 0.0001), general health (P < 0.0001), and social functioning (P = 0.01). Physical functioning was lower in patients with acute anterior uveitis (AAU) than in those with panuveitis (P = 0.003). No differences were found between patients with bilateral or unilateral NIU, isolated NIU, or NIU associated with systemic diseases and with or without ocular activity. No correlations were identified between best-corrected visual acuity and SF-36 subscores. Physical functioning (P = 0.02), bodily pain (P = 0.004), and social functioning (P = 0.02) were reduced in males versus females. 

Conclusions: QoL is impaired in individuals with NIU, particularly in the physical domains, general health, and social functioning. AAU affects physical functioning more than panuveitis. NIU seems to affect per se QoL disregarding inflammatory activity, visual impairment, and presence of associated systemic diseases.


Ron Beloosesky MD, Ilana Feldblum PhD, Alon Shrim MD, Jenny Kertes MPH, Jacob Segal MD, Rachel Bachar MD and Yefet Youval MD

Background: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection during pregnancy is the most common cause of intrauterine infection, and is a common cause of sensorineural hearing loss and mental retardation. 

Objectives: To evaluate trends in amniocentesis and pregnancy outcome in women with suspected cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection during the first trimester.

Methods: All blood tests for CMV immunoglobulin M (IgM) done between 2008 and 2009 on pregnant women who were enrolled in the Maccabi Healthcare Services were retrieved from laboratory database. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) avidity was measured and women were classified according to the risk of acquiring CMV infection. For each patient, performance of amniocentesis and whether pregnancy came to term were recorded.

Results: Of 109,439 pregnant women evaluated during the study period, 76,712 (70.1%) were tested for CMV IgM, and 792 (1.03%) were found to be positive. Among women with positive IgM, only 205 (25.9%) underwent amniocentesis. When compared with women with negative CMV IgM, the rate of pregnancy cessation was doubled in women with positive CMV IgM (28.3% vs. 14.3%, P < 0.05) and mostly elevated in women with a high risk of acquiring CMV (42.3% pregnancy cessation). Among women with positive CMV IgM, those who did not undergo amniocentesis were more likely to abort than those who performed amniocentesis (35.6% vs. 7.3%, P < 0.05). 

Conclusions: More women with suspected CMV infection during the first trimester of pregnancy aborted before all means of detection were utilized to rule out or confirm fetal infection with CMV.


Amiram Nir MD and Neville Berkman MD

Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a significant consequence of congenital heart disease (CHD). Its presence and severity is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. 

Objectives: To evaluate the clinical and demographic characteristics of adults with congenital heart diseases (ADCHD) and PAH at a single center. 

Methods: A prospective registry of all patients with PAH was conducted between 2009 and 2015. 

Results: Thirty-two patients were identified. The mean age at the last visit was 44 years (range 19–77 years). The prevalence of PAH among all ADCHD patients was 6% (95% confidence interval 4.3%–8.4%). A much higher prevalence (53%) was found in patients with Down syndrome. Most patients with PAH had moderate or severe disease. Fifteen patients (47%) were treated with pulmonary vasodilators and 6 (19%) with combination therapy. The average World Health Organization functional class was 2.6. Morbidity included cerebral vascular accident or transient ischemic attack in 22% (mostly in patients with right-to-left shunt) and arrhythmia in 37% of the patients. During a median follow-up of 3.5 years, 5 patients (15.6%) died. Of 13 women with no mental retardation, 11 were or had been married and all had children (between 1 and 13, mean 3.3). 

Conclusions: Patients with congenital heart disease and PAH have significant morbidity and mortality. PAH is more prevalent in patients with Down syndrome. While pulmonary pressure during the reproductive years was not always known, 27% of women with PAH at the time of the study were multiparous.


Yael Yagur MD, Saja Anaboussi MD, Mordechai Hallak MD and Alon Shrim MD

Background: The prevalence of major malformations in the general population is estimated at 5% of all live births. Prenatal diagnosis is an important scientific tool that allows reliable consultation and improves pregnancy outcome. In 2008, congenital malformations were the leading cause of death in Muslim infants and the second cause of death in Jewish infants in Israel. It is known that folic acid consumption prior to pregnancy decreases the rate of several fetal malformations.

Objectives: To assess the folic acid consumption rate and to characterize variables associated with its use among pregnant women attending a rural medical center. 

Methods: A cross-sectional observational study was conducted at our institution. Pregnant women in the second or third trimester of pregnancy or within 3 days postpartum were interviewed. The main variable measured was the use of folic acid. Demographic variables and the rate of prenatal testing were assessed. A secondary analysis of the population that reported no consumption of folic acid was carried out. 

Results: Out of 382 women who participated in the study, 270 (71%) reported consumption of folic acid. Using a multivariate analysis model, we found that maternal education, planning of pregnancy, and low parity were independent predictors of folic acid consumption. Women who were not consuming folic acid tended to perform fewer prenatal tests during pregnancy.

Conclusions: High maternal educational level, planning of pregnancy, and low parity are related to high consumption rates of folic acid. Women who were not taking folic acid performed fewer prenatal tests during pregnancy. 

Irina Vasilyevna Belyaeva MD PhD, Leonid Pavlovitch Churilov MD PhD, Liya Robertovnа Mikhailova MS, Aleksey Vladimirovitch Nikolaev MD, Anna Andreevna Starshinova MD DSci and Piotr Kazimirovitch Yablonsky MD DSci

Background: Vitamin D insufficiency is associated with autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases such as tuberculosis and sarcoidosis. 

Objectives: To evaluate the vitamin D-dependent mechanisms of immunity and autoimmunity in different forms of pulmonary tuberculosis and sarcoidosis.

Methods: We measured the serum levels of 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D, individual autoimmune profiles, plasma concentrations of cathelicidin, several hormones, and production of nine cytokines in patients with short- and long-duration tuberculosis and sarcoidosis.

Results: The level of 25(OH)D was significantly decreased in all patients. Concentration of 1,25(OH)2D was elevated only in sarcoidosis, prolactin content was augmented only in tuberculosis. We saw no expected increase of cathelicidin levels in tuberculosis and sarcoidosis. The individual mean immune reactivity levels of autoantibodies to 24 antigens were significantly lower in tuberculosis and sarcoidosis patients compared to healthy controls. Pronounced deviations from individual mean immune reactivity levels were found for several autoantigens in all patients. The induced production of interferon gamma-γ, interleukin (IL) 2, 17, and 8 by peripheral blood mononuclear cells was significantly increased in patients of both tuberculosis groups, but spontaneous production of tumor necrosis factor-α, IL-2, and IL-6 was lower in the tuberculosis patients than in healthy controls. We registered marked differences in the groups of tuberculosis patients. 

Conclusions: We demonstrated the role of vitamin D deficiency in poor cathelicidin response in  tuberculosis and sarcoidosis. Both diseases are accompanied by significant changes in the autoimmune profile, probably related to the status of vitamin D and cytokine regulation. 


Fabiola Atzeni MD PhD, Marco Corda MD, Piercarlo Sarzi-Puttini MD, Francesco Caso MD, PhD and Maurizio Turiel MD
Shir Azrielant and Yehuda Shoenfeld
Fabiola Atzeni MD PhD, Rossella Talotta MD PhD, Ignazio F. Masala MD, Sara Bongiovanni MD, Laura Boccassini MD and Piercarlo Sarzi-Puttini MD

Biomarkers are important for guiding the clinical and therapeutic management of all phases of rheumatoid arthritis because they can help to predict disease development in subjects at risk, improve diagnosis by closing the serological gap, provide prognostic information that is useful for making therapeutic choices and assessing treatment responses and outcomes, and allow disease activity and progression to be monitored. Various biomarkers can be used to identify subjects susceptible to the disease and those with pre-clinical rheumatoid arthritis before the onset of symptoms such as rheumatoid factor and anti-citrullinated protein antibodies. They can be correlated with a risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and can predict more bone erosions and severe disease progression. Biomarkers such as the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein levels provide information about disease activity, while predictive biomarkers allow clinicians to assess the probability of a treatment response before starting a particular therapy particularly in the era of biological drugs. This move from traditional approaches to patient stratification and targeted treatment should greatly improve patient care and reduce medical costs.

Karen Belkić MD PhD and Dževad Belkić PhD

Ovarian cancer is a major cause of cancer death among women worldwide, and particularly in Israel. Although the disease at stage IA has 5 year survival rates of over 90%, early detection methods are not sufficiently accurate. Consequently, ovarian cancer is typically diagnosed late, which results in high fatality rates. An excellent candidate for early ovarian cancer detection would be in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) because it is non-invasive and free of ionizing radiation. In addition, it potentially identifies metabolic features of cancer. Detecting these metabolic features depends on adequate processing of encoded MRS time signals for reconstructing interpretable information. The conventional Fourier-based method currently used in all clinical scanners is inadequate for this task. Thus, cancerous and benign ovarian lesions are not well distinguished. Advanced signal processing, such as the fast Padé transform (FPT) with high-resolution and clinically reliable quantification, is needed. The effectiveness of the FPT was demonstrated in proof-of-concept studies on noise-controlled MRS data associated with benign and cancerous ovaries. The FPT has now been successfully applied to MRS time signals encoded in vivo from a borderline serous cystic ovarian tumor. Noise was effectively separated out to identify and quantify genuine spectral constituents that are densely packed and often overlapping. Among these spectral constituents are recognized and possible cancer biomarkers including phosphocholine, choline, isoleucine, valine, lactate, threonine, alanine, and myoinositol. Most of these resonances remain undetected with Fourier-based in vivo MRS of the ovary. With Padé optimization, in vivo MRS could become a key method for assessing ovarian lesions, more effectively detecting ovarian cancer early, thereby improving survival for women afflicted with this malignancy.

Case Communications
Liron Hofstetter MD, Sagit Ben Zekry MD, Naama Pelz-Sinvani MD, Michael Kogan MD, Vladislav Litachevsky MD, Avi Sabbag MD and Gad Segal MD
Diagnostic Dilemma
Amir Dagan MD, Chen Avaky MD, Michael Ehrenfeld MD and Gad Segal MD
Legal Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or medical advice on any matter.
The IMA is not responsible for and expressly disclaims liability for damages of any kind arising from the use of or reliance on information contained within the site.
© All rights to information on this site are reserved and are the property of the Israeli Medical Association. Privacy policy

2 Twin Towers, 35 Jabotinsky, POB 3566, Ramat Gan 5213604 Israel