Innovative treatment strategies for patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2008 May;20(3):287-94. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0b013e3282fa13db.


Purpose of review: The present review provides an update on novel treatment strategies striving for remission in patients with recent onset of rheumatoid arthritis.

Recent findings: As early treatment is crucial to achieve optimal results, identifying patients with rheumatoid arthritis early is imperative to achieve clinical remission. Patients with early arthritis who will progress to rheumatoid arthritis can be identified, and treating these patients can postpone the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and retard the progression of structural damage. The best way to achieve remission is by adjusting treatments at regular intervals using predetermined response criteria. Specific treatments to rapidly induce remission include disease modifying antirheumatic drugs combinations, especially combined with glucocorticoids or tumor necrosis factor antagonists. The prediction of joint damage progression, or the response to specific drugs is not yet accurately possible. The early institution of tumor necrosis factor antagonists followed by discontinuation leads to sustained clinical benefit.

Summary: Early treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis with strategies aiming at remission results in the best outcomes. Until the prediction of a severe disease course and treatment response becomes possible, a promising strategy would be to rapidly induce remission using an effective combination of drugs followed by tapering and discontinuation. Tumor necrosis factor antagonists have proven to be highly effective in this approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Remission Induction / methods
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha