Evolution of imaging findings, laboratory and functional parameters in rheumatoid arthritis patients after one year of treatment with anti-TNF-α agents

Efstathios E Detorakis, Eleftherios Magkanas, Ismini Lasithiotaki, Prodromos Sidiropoulos, Dimitrios T Boumpas, Nicholas Gourtsoyiannis, Katerina Antoniou, Maria Raissaki
Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology 2017, 35 (1): 43-52

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the efficacy and safety of anti-TNF-α agent treatment compared to non-biologic DMARDs in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

METHODS: 82 consecutive patients, 29 males, 53 females, aged 42-79, diagnosed with RA and suitable for anti-TNF-α treatment composed two study groups: 42 with pre-existing rheumatoid arthritis-related interstitial lung disease (RA-ILD) and 40 without RA-ILD. Respective control groups consisted of 44 patients with pre-existing RA-ILD and 44 patients without RA-ILD, treated with non-biologic DMARDs. All patients underwent chest high resolution computed tomography (HRCT), pulmonary function tests (PFTs) and peripheral blood biomarkers at baseline and after one year of treatment.

RESULTS: There was a significant decrease of air trapping extent and bronchial wall thickening after treatment in RA-ILD and RA-non ILD study groups (p<0.05). This was accompanied by a statistically significant improvement of maximum mid-expiratory flow (MMEF75-25), RV and RV/TLC in both study groups (p<0.05). In the RA-ILD study group ILD extent scores remained unchanged after anti-TNF-α treatment. None of the RA-non ILD group developed new-onset ILD. In both RA-ILD and RA-non ILD control groups, HRCT findings and PFTs did not differ significantly at the one-year follow-up study. Methotrexate (MTX) regression analysis showed in both RA-ILD study and control groups a negative correlation between MTX dose and ILD extent score at one-year and between MTX dose and air trapping extent at baseline and after one year of treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Anti-TNF-α treatment, in contrast to non-biologic DMARDs, there was an improvement of small airways disease. There was no new-onset ILD or exacerbation of preexisting-ILD, especially in patients treated with anti-TNF-α agents, supporting the efficacy and favourable safety profile of this treatment in RA patients.


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