Treatment strategies for elderly-onset rheumatoid arthritis in the new era

Mod Rheumatol. 2022 Apr 18;32(3):493-499. doi: 10.1093/mr/roab087.


Elderly-onset rheumatoid arthritis (EORA) is characterized by acute onset and clinical features of high disease activity. Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody (ACPA) positivity or the presence of bone erosions predicts a radiological joint destruction of EORA, but ACPA-negative EORA with a polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) phenotype may also present. Biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) and Janus kinase inhibitors were beneficial both in older and in younger patients in terms of risk-benefit balance. Implementation of a treat-to-target strategy could improve EORA outcomes, but older patients have more age-related comorbidities and interstitial lung disease than younger patients. Baseline comorbidities, more frequent methotrexate dose-dependent adverse events, serious infections, cardiovascular disease events, and malignancy all influence the choice of treatment and the treatment goals for older patients. Based on articles reviewed here, it is suggested that current treatment strategies for younger patients are also useful for ACPA-positive EORA and for ACPA-negative EORA with bone erosion. Differential diagnosis of ACPA-negative EORA without erosive arthritis and PMR with peripheral manifestations is challenging, and the treatment strategy of patients presenting with this overlap phenotype remained unclear. An appropriate treatment strategy for all patients with EORA still needs to be developed.

Keywords: Elderly-onset RA; JAK inhibitors; PMR; biological DMARDs; treat-to-target.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Antirheumatic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / drug therapy
  • Autoantibodies
  • Humans
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica* / diagnosis


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Autoantibodies