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Effects of RANKL inhibition on promoting healing of bone erosion in rheumatoid arthritis using HR-pQCT: a 2-year, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial


Objective To evaluate the effects of denosumab on erosion healing at 2–4 metacarpophalangeal (MCP) head as determined by high-resolution peripheral quantitative CT (HR-pQCT) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with stable disease.

Methods This was a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Patients with RA with disease activity score 28 joints (DAS28) ≤5.1 were randomised (1:1) to subcutaneous denosumab 60 mg or placebo once every 6 months for 24 months. The primary outcome was erosion healing at MCP 2–4 on HR-pQCT at 12 months. The effects of denosumab on erosion and joint space parameters on HR-pQCT and radiographs, disease activity and health assessment questionnaire-disability index (HAQ-DI) were also examined.

Results At 24 months, HR-pQCT images were analysed in 98 patients. One-third of the patients achieved sustained low disease activity throughout the study. At 12 months, changes in erosion parameters on HR-pQCT were similar between the two groups. At 24 months, new erosions (19% vs 9%, p=0.009) and erosion progression (18% vs 8%, p=0.019) were more common in the placebo group than the denosumab group. Erosion healing was seen in a significantly higher proportion of patients in the denosumab group (20% vs 6%, p=0.045) at 24 months. No significant changes in joint space parameters on HR-pQCT, van der Heijde-Sharp erosion score, DAS28 and HAQ-DI were observed in the two groups at 12 and 24 months.

Conclusion Although no differences in erosion parameters were observed at 12 months, denosumab was more efficacious than placebo in erosion repair on HR-pQCT after 24 months.

Trial registration number NCT03239080.

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • biological therapy
  • therapeutics

Data availability statement

No data are available.

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