Immunohistological features which might predict the clinical course and outcome of rheumatoid arthritis were sought by examining multiple synovial membrane samples obtained by needle biopsy from the knee joints of 57 patients who had not received disease modifying antirheumatic drugs. Clinical measurements, but not biopsies, were repeated one year and three years after starting treatment. A correlation between both the intensity of synovial lining layer thickening and mononuclear cell infiltration and the clinical status at the time of biopsy was seen. After three years of treatment the correlations were maintained in patients who had presented and persisted with milder disease but not in patients who had presented with more active disease.
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