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  1. W. Xie1,
  2. H. Huang1,
  3. Z. Zhang1
  1. 1Peking University First Hospital, Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Beijing, China


Background: Glucocorticoids (GC) are currently recommended as bridging therapy in combination with csDMARDs in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and should be tapered as rapidly as clinically feasible for safety concerns about their long-term use [1-3].

Objectives: To unravel the dynamical trajectory and characteristics of GCs tapering and discontinuation in RA patients commencing GCs with concomitant csDMARDs.

Methods: We used data from longitudinal real-world TARRA (Treat-to-TARget in RA) cohort in Peking University First Hospital. RA patient who started GCs and contaminant csDMARDs therapy over 1-year follow-up were included. The changes in GCs dose and disease activity in the context of csDMARDs were evaluated. GCs discontinuation rate was analyzed using Kaplan-Meier analysis. The relapse profiles within 6 months after GCs discontinuation were also analyzed.

Results: A total of 207 RA patients were included. During a median follow-up duration of 38.6 months, 124 (59.9%) patients discontinued GC. The median oral prednisolone dose of 10 (5-10) mg/d at initiation was reduced by 50% in the first 6 months and then more slowly reduced, finally to zero by 48 months. The cumulative probability of GCs discontinuation was 26.6% at year 1, 48.0% at year 2, 58.6% at year 3, with calculated median time of 27 months (Figure 1). Of the 124 patients who discontinued GCs, add of other csDMARDs or increment of current csDMARDs was required in 29.0% of them. Approximately half of 124 patients were in clinical remission at the time point of GCs discontinuation. Within 6 months after GCs withdrawal, 79.1% (91/115) of participants maintained relapse-free.

Figure 1.

Kaplan-Meier curve with cumulative probability of glucocorticoids discontinuation in RA patients who start glucocorticoids with concomitant csDMARDs during the follow-up period. csDMARDs: conventional synthetic disease modifying antirheumatic drugs.

Conclusion: In RA patients commencing GCs in addition to csDMARDs, GCs are feasibly discontinued with favorable control of disease activity in real-life setting, mostly without short-term flare. Adding targeted therapies are sometimes required to attain GCs discontinuation within the time frame of 3 months in current guidelines.

References: [1]Hoes JN, Jacobs JW, Buttgereit F, Bijlsma JW. Current view of glucocorticoid co-therapy with DMARDs in rheumatoid arthritis. Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2010 Dec;6(12):693-702. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2010.179.

[2]Smolen JS, Landewé RBM, Bijlsma JWJ, et al. EULAR recommendations for the management of rheumatoid arthritis with synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs: 2019 update. Ann Rheum Dis. 2020 Jun;79(6):685-699. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2019-216655.

[3]Conn DL. The Story Behind the Use of Glucocorticoids in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2020 Dec 17;51(1):15-19. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2020.09.016.

Disclosure of Interests: None declared

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