Objectives: Methotrexate is considered to be first-line therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, a substantial proportion of treated patients do not achieve the desired goals of therapy. This analysis aimed to identify predictors of insufficient response to methotrexate in patients with early RA.
Methods: The Optimal Protocol for Treatment Initiation with Methotrexate and Adalimumab (OPTIMA) and PREMIER studies in patients with RA for <1 and <3 years, respectively, examined the efficacy of methotrexate and adalimumab in methotrexate-naive patients. This post hoc analysis included patients for whom initial methotrexate monotherapy was not successful after 6 months. Candidate predictors of insufficient response and clinically relevant radiographic progression (CRRP) included demographics, baseline disease characteristics and time-averaged disease variables over a 12-week interval. In OPTIMA, adalimumab was added to therapy after insufficient treatment response; in PREMIER, initial methotrexate therapy was continued; clinical, functional and radiologic outcomes were assessed after 1 year.
Results: Baseline 28-joint Disease Activity Score based on C-reactive protein (DAS28(CRP)) and time-averaged DAS28(CRP) over 4, 8 and 12 weeks were the strongest predictors of insufficient response to methotrexate and CRRP. Addition of adalimumab to methotrexate therapy was associated with better clinical, functional and radiographic outcomes after 1 year compared with continuing on methotrexate monotherapy.
Conclusions: In patients with early RA, baseline disease characteristics and early disease activity can predict response to methotrexate treatment and radiographic progression at 6 months. The addition of adalimumab at 6 months after methotrexate failure is associated with improved outcomes. These results support treatment-to-target strategies and timely adaptation of therapy in patients with early RA.
Keywords: anti-TNF; methotrexate; rheumatoid arthritis.
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