• Active conventional treatment and three different biological treatments in early rheumatoid arthritis: phase IV investigator initiated, randomised, observer blinded clinical trial.

      Hetland, Merete Lund; Haavardsholm, Espen A; Rudin, Anna; Nordström, Dan; Nurmohamed, Michael; Gudbjornsson, Bjorn; Lampa, Jon; Hørslev-Petersen, Kim; Uhlig, Till; Grondal, Gerdur; et al. (British Medical Association, 2020-12-02)
      Objective: To evaluate and compare benefits and harms of three biological treatments with different modes of action versus active conventional treatment in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis. Design: Investigator initiated, randomised, open label, blinded assessor, multiarm, phase IV study. Setting: Twenty nine rheumatology departments in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, and Iceland between 2012 and 2018. Participants: Patients aged 18 years and older with treatment naive rheumatoid arthritis, symptom duration less than 24 months, moderate to severe disease activity, and rheumatoid factor or anti-citrullinated protein antibody positivity, or increased C reactive protein. Interventions: Randomised 1:1:1:1, stratified by country, sex, and anti-citrullinated protein antibody status. All participants started methotrexate combined with (a) active conventional treatment (either prednisolone tapered to 5 mg/day, or sulfasalazine combined with hydroxychloroquine and intra-articular corticosteroids), (b) certolizumab pegol, (c) abatacept, or (d) tocilizumab. Main outcome measures: The primary outcome was adjusted clinical disease activity index remission (CDAI≤2.8) at 24 weeks with active conventional treatment as the reference. Key secondary outcomes and analyses included CDAI remission at 12 weeks and over time, other remission criteria, a non-inferiority analysis, and harms. Results: 812 patients underwent randomisation. The mean age was 54.3 years (standard deviation 14.7) and 68.8% were women. Baseline disease activity score of 28 joints was 5.0 (standard deviation 1.1). Adjusted 24 week CDAI remission rates were 42.7% (95% confidence interval 36.1% to 49.3%) for active conventional treatment, 46.5% (39.9% to 53.1%) for certolizumab pegol, 52.0% (45.5% to 58.6%) for abatacept, and 42.1% (35.3% to 48.8%) for tocilizumab. Corresponding absolute differences were 3.9% (95% confidence interval -5.5% to 13.2%) for certolizumab pegol, 9.4% (0.1% to 18.7%) for abatacept, and -0.6% (-10.1% to 8.9%) for tocilizumab. Key secondary outcomes showed no major differences among the four treatments. Differences in CDAI remission rates for active conventional treatment versus certolizumab pegol and tocilizumab, but not abatacept, remained within the prespecified non-inferiority margin of 15% (per protocol population). The total number of serious adverse events was 13 (percentage of patients who experienced at least one event 5.6%) for active conventional treatment, 20 (8.4%) for certolizumab pegol, 10 (4.9%) for abatacept, and 10 (4.9%) for tocilizumab. Eleven patients treated with abatacept stopped treatment early compared with 20-23 patients in the other arms. Conclusions: All four treatments achieved high remission rates. Higher CDAI remission rate was observed for abatacept versus active conventional treatment, but not for certolizumab pegol or tocilizumab versus active conventional treatment. Other remission rates were similar across treatments. Non-inferiority analysis indicated that active conventional treatment was non-inferior to certolizumab pegol and tocilizumab, but not to abatacept. The results highlight the efficacy and safety of active conventional treatment based on methotrexate combined with corticosteroids, with nominally better results for abatacept, in treatment naive early rheumatoid arthritis.
    • Head-to-head comparison of aggressive conventional therapy and three biological treatments and comparison of two de-escalation strategies in patients who respond to treatment: study protocol for a multicenter, randomized, open-label, blinded-assessor, phase 4 study.

      Glinatsi, Daniel; Heiberg, Marte S; Rudin, Anna; Nordström, Dan; Haavardsholm, Espen A; Gudbjornsson, Bjorn; Østergaard, Mikkel; Uhlig, Till; Grondal, Gerdur; Hørslev-Petersen, Kim; et al. (BioMed Central, 2017-04-04)
      New targeted therapies and improved treatment strategies have dramatically improved the outcomes of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, it is unknown whether different early aggressive interventions can induce stable remission or a low-active disease state that can be maintained with conventional synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (csDMARD) therapy, and whether they differ in efficacy and safety. The Nordic Rheumatic Diseases Strategy Trials And Registries (NORD-STAR) study will assess and compare (1) the proportion of patients who achieve remission in a head-to-head comparison between csDMARD plus glucocorticoid therapy and three different biological DMARD (bDMARD) therapies with different modes of action and (2) two de-escalation strategies in patients who respond to first-line therapy.
    • Plasma interferon-alpha is associated with double-positivity for autoantibodies but is not a predictor of remission in early rheumatoid arthritis-a spin-off study of the NORD-STAR randomized clinical trial.

      Stockfelt, Marit; Lundell, Anna-Carin; Hetland, Merete Lund; Østergaard, Mikkel; Uhlig, Till; Heiberg, Marte Schrumpf; Haavardsholm, Espen A; Nurmohamed, Michael T; Lampa, Jon; Nordström, Dan; et al. (BioMed Central, 2021-07-13)
      Background: The type I interferon (IFN) gene signature is present in a subgroup of patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Protein levels of IFNα have not been measured in RA and it is unknown whether they associate with clinical characteristics or treatment effect. Methods: Patients with early untreated RA (n = 347) were randomized to methotrexate combined with prednisone, certolizumab-pegol, abatacept, or tocilizumab. Plasma IFNα protein levels were determined by single molecular array (Simoa) before and 24 weeks after treatment initiation and were related to demographic and clinical factors including clinical disease activity index, disease activity score in 28 joints, swollen and tender joint counts, and patient global assessment. Results: IFNα protein positivity was found in 26% of the patients, and of these, 92% were double-positive for rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA). IFNα protein levels were reduced 24 weeks after treatment initiation, and the absolute change was similar irrespective of treatment. IFNα protein positivity was associated neither with disease activity nor with achievement of CDAI remission 24 weeks after randomization. Conclusion: IFNα protein positivity is present in a subgroup of patients with early RA and associates with double-positivity for autoantibodies but not with disease activity. Pre-treatment IFNα positivity did not predict remission in any of the treatment arms, suggesting that the IFNα system is distinct from the pathways of TNF, IL-6, and T-cell activation in early RA. A spin-off study of the NORD-STAR randomized clinical trial, NCT01491815 (ClinicalTrials), registered 12/08/2011, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01491815 .