Abatacept plus methotrexate provides incremental clinical benefits versus methotrexate alone in methotrexate-naive patients with early rheumatoid arthritis who achieve radiographic nonprogression

Alvin F Wells, Rene Westhovens, Diane Moniz Reed, Luciana Fanti, Jean-Claude Becker, Allison Covucci, Edward C Keystone
Journal of Rheumatology 2011, 38 (11): 2362-8

OBJECTIVE: This article reports 1-year clinical outcomes in the subgroup of patients with rheumatoid arthritis in the Abatacept study to Gauge Remission and joint damage progression in methotrexate-naive patients with Early Erosive rheumatoid arthritis (AGREE) who achieved radiographic nonprogression at the end of the double-blind phase.

METHODS: Patients who achieved radiographic nonprogression (change from baseline in total Sharp score ≤ 0 at 12 months) with abatacept plus methotrexate (MTX) or MTX alone were eligible for this analysis. Clinical outcomes were remission, defined by 28-joint Disease Activity Score (DAS28) using C-reactive protein (CRP), low Disease Activity Score (LDAS), American College of Rheumatology (ACR) scores, physical function (Health Assessment Questionnaire), and tender and swollen joint counts. Safety was assessed at each visit.

RESULTS: Patients in the abatacept plus MTX and MTX monotherapy groups had similar baseline characteristics and were similar to the overall study population. The proportion of patients who achieved DAS28 (CRP) remission or LDAS was greater with abatacept plus MTX vs MTX alone [43.2% vs 22.7% (p < 0.001) and 57.4% vs 40.6% (p = 0.008), respectively]. More patients receiving abatacept plus MTX achieved key ACR responses, including major clinical response (27.3% vs 11.9%; p < 0.001). Safety profiles were similar in both treatment groups.

CONCLUSION: More MTX-naive patients with early RA who achieved radiographic nonprogression taking abatacept plus MTX also achieved DAS28 (CRP)-defined remission and LDAS compared with patients who received MTX alone, supporting the use of abatacept as a first-line biologic in combination with disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.

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