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OBJECTIVE: At 5 years' follow-up of early (<6 months) rheumatoid arthritis patients to (1) investigate whether initial combination therapy with methotrexate (MTX) and ciclosporin (CSA) (n=80) is superior to initial monotherapy with MTX (n=80) with respect to prevention of radiographic progression, (2) investigate whether the favourable clinical and radiographic response reported at 2 years in the CIMESTRA trial can be maintained and (3) identify predictors of radiographic outcome. METHODS: 139 patients completed 5 years' follow-up with maintained double-blinding and a strict synovitis suppressive treatment strategy with intra-articular betamethasone injections (intra-articular glucocorticosteroid (GC)) and escalation of disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug treatment. Disease activity, total Sharp-van der Heijde Score (TSS) of hands, wrists and forefeet were assessed at baseline and after 3, 4 and 5 years. MRI of the wrist and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) were assessed at baseline. RESULTS: At 5 years, TSS progression rate was <1 unit/year and 47% had not progressed radiographically since baseline. 78% were in Disease Activity Score remission, 56% in American College of Rheumatology remission and 17% withdrawn from treatment due to remission. There were no differences between initial treatment groups. MRI-bone marrow oedema, TSS and anti-CCP predicted radiographic progression at 5 years. CONCLUSION: Early and strict synovitis suppressive treatment with MTX and intra-articular GC lead to high remission rates and halting of erosive progression at 5 years. No additional effect of initial combination therapy with CSA was found. The results parallel those reported for tumour necrosis factor α antagonists. Baseline MRI-bone oedema, TSS and anti-CCP predicted radiographic progression.

Original publication

DOI

10.1136/ard.2009.125534

Type

Journal article

Journal

Ann Rheum Dis

Publication Date

10/2010

Volume

69

Pages

1789 - 1795

Keywords

Adult, Aged, Antirheumatic Agents, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Autoantibodies, Biomarkers, Bone Marrow Diseases, Cyclosporine, Disease Progression, Drug Therapy, Combination, Edema, Epidemiologic Methods, Female, Humans, Immunosuppressive Agents, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Methotrexate, Middle Aged, Peptides, Cyclic, Prognosis, Radiography, Remission Induction