Objectives To identify predictors of clinical remission as well as of no x-ray progression in a cohort of early rheumatoid arthritis (ERA) treated with a tight-control protocol.
Methods A total of 121 consecutive patients with ERA were treated to reach European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) and/or American College of Rheumatology (ACR) clinical remission with methotrexate (MTX) for 3 months, then with a combination with anti-tumour necrosis factor if the patient did not achieve a 44-joint Disease Activity Score (DAS44) ≤2.4. At baseline and after 12 months all the patients had hand and foot joint radiographs. Very early rheumatoid arthritis (VERA) was defined as a disease with symptoms of less than 12 weeks.
Results In all, 46.3% of the patients reached DAS remission and 24.8% achieved ACR remission. More than 60% of patients reached remission with MTX. Male sex and an erythrocyte sedimentation rate <35 mm/h at onset arose as significant predictors of EULAR remission, while VERA disease was the only predictor of ACR remission. At baseline, 28.1% of the patients were erosive. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that the only independent predictor of erosiveness was ‘not having VERA disease’. After 12 months, VERA was the only factor predicting a lack of new erosions.
Conclusions VERA represents the best therapeutic opportunity in clinical practice to achieve a complete remission and to stop the erosive course of rheumatoid arthritis.
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Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart Ethics Committee.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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