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Using a DAS28-CRP-steered treat-to-target strategy does not eliminate subclinical inflammation as assessed by ultrasonography in rheumatoid arthritis patients in longstanding clinical remission

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BACKGROUND: Subclinical synovitis by ultrasound is a frequent finding in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients in remission and has been shown to be related to erosive progression, risk of flare and unsuccessful drug tapering, but it has not been investigated how a DAS28 T2T-steered strategy in routine care affects the presence of subclinical synovitis in RA patients in remission. The aim of the current study was to investigate the presence of ultrasound-detected subclinical inflammation in RA patients in long-term remission receiving either biological or conventional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARD/csDMARD) and, finally, to investigate the presence of ultrasound remission using different ultrasound remission criteria.

METHODS: Eighty-seven RA patients (42 patients receiving bDMARD and 45 csDMARD) received DAS28-CRP-steered treatment in routine care and had achieved DAS28-CRP-remission for > 1 year without radiographic progression. Twenty-four joints were scored 0-3 by ultrasound (elbows, wrists, knees, ankles, metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints 2-5) for grey-scale synovial hypertrophy (GS) and colour Doppler activity (CD) using the OMERACT scoring system. Ultrasound remission was defined as strict (GS score = 0 and CD score = 0), semi-strict (GS score < 1 and Doppler score = 0) and Doppler remission (Doppler score = 0).

RESULTS: No differences between treatment groups were found for GS sum score and Doppler sum score (median (range) 6 (0-19) and 0 (0-12), respectively). A Doppler score > 0 in at least 1 joint was seen in 44%, a GS score > 1 in at least 1 joint in 93% and a GS score > 2 in at least 1 joint in 54% of patients. Strict ultrasound remission was only observed in bDMARD patients (7%; p = 0.01). Thirty-seven per cent were in semi-strict ultrasound remission and 56% in Doppler remission (no significant difference between groups) with similar results across the subgroups of patients who also fulfilled the ACR-EULAR Boolean-, CDAI- and SDAI-remission criteria.

CONCLUSIONS: Ultrasound frequently detected subclinical synovitis in RA patients in longstanding DAS28-remission obtained through a DAS28-CRP-steered strategy. This was independent of treatment and applied ultrasound remission criteria. Strict ultrasound remission was rare.

TidsskriftArthritis Research & Therapy
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)48
StatusUdgivet - 1 feb. 2021

ID: 70398954