Introduction: Prognosis in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is difficult to assess. The aim of this study was to examine whether serum levels of a spectrum of cytokines were predictive of radiographic progression in early RA patients.
Methods: A total of 82 early RA patients (disease duration < 1 year) were followed for 12 months. Clinical assessments, X-rays of hands and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the dominant wrist were assessed at baseline and after 3, 6 and 12 months. The X-rays were scored according to the van der Heijde modified Sharp score (vdHSS). Cytokine analyses were performed with multiplex technology. Associations between cytokines and radiographic progression were examined by logistic regression.
Results: In all, 49% of the patients developed radiographic progression. The median (interquartile range (IQR)) baseline eotaxin level (pg/ml) was significantly lower in patients with (193 (119 to 247)) than without progression (265 (166 to 360)). In the univariate logistic regression analyses, eotaxin was negatively associated to radiographic progression, and this association was maintained in the multivariate model with an odds ratio (OR) (95% confidence interval (CI)) for progression of 0.58 (0.41 to 0.82) per 50 pg/ml increase in eotaxin level. None of the other measured cytokines showed any association to radiographic progression.
Conclusion: This study raises the hypothesis that high serum levels of eotaxin predict less radiographic progression in early RA patients.