Clinical and radiological efficacy of initial vs delayed treatment with infliximab plus methotrexate in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis

S.M. van der Kooij, S. Le Cessie, Y.P.M. Ruiterman, J.K. Bouwstra, D. van Zeben, P.J.S.M. Kerstens, J.M.W. Hazes, D. van Schaardenburg, F.C. Breedveld, B.A.C. Dijkmans, C.F. Allaart

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Abstract

Objectives: To compare the clinical and radiological efficacy of initial vs delayed treatment with methotrexate (MTX) and infliximab (IFX) in patients with recent onset rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Methods: In a post hoc analysis of the BeSt study (for Behandel Stratagieen, Dutch for treatment strategies), 117 patients who started initial MTX+IFX were compared with 67 patients who started MTX+IFX treatment after failing (disease activity score (DAS)> 2.4; median delay to IFX: 13 months) on >= 3 traditional DMARDs. If the DAS remained > 2.4, the protocol dictated IFX dose increases to 6, 7.5 and 10 mg/kg. In case of a DAS = 6 months, IFX was tapered and finally stopped. We aimed to correct for allocation bias using propensity scores. Functional ability was measured by the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), radiological progression by Sharp/van der Heijde scoring (SHS). Results: Baseline differences between the initial and delayed groups were no longer significant after propensity score adjustment. At 3 years after baseline, patients treated with initial MTX+IFX experienced more improvement in HAQ over time and were less likely to have SHS progression than patients treated with delayed MTX+IFX (p = 0.034). At 2 years after IFX initiation, more patients in the initial group compared with the delayed group could discontinue IFX after a good response (56% vs 29%, p = 0.008). Conclusions: The results of this post hoc analysis suggest that using MTX+IFX as initial treatment for patients with recent onset RA is more effective than reserving MTX+IFX for patients who failed on traditional DMARDs, with more HAQ improvement over time, more IFX discontinuation and less progression of joint damage
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1153-1158
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of the Rheumatic Diseases
Volume68
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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van der Kooij, S. M., Le Cessie, S., Ruiterman, Y. P. M., Bouwstra, J. K., van Zeben, D., Kerstens, P. J. S. M., ... Allaart, C. F. (2009). Clinical and radiological efficacy of initial vs delayed treatment with infliximab plus methotrexate in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 68(7), 1153-1158. https://doi.org/10.1136/ard.2008.093294