Abatacept (ABT) is a biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (bDMARDs) for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) when conventional synthetic DMARDs are ineffective. We aimed to evaluate the long-term effects of ABT on joint destruction in patients treated for over 2 years. Radiographic progression was evaluated using the van der Heijde-modified Total Sharp Score (mTSS) by two rheumatologists at ABT initiation and after 2 years. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with structural remission, defined as the mean annual change in mTSS ≤0.5. Among the 111 patients included, 48 discontinued, and 63 continued ABT treatment until radiographic evaluation was performed. The rate of patients who achieved estimated TSS REM (yearly progression of van der Heijde modified total Sharp scores ≤0.5) was significantly lower in ABT-dropouts than in the ABT-continued group (69% vs. 48%, p = .0336 by Fisher's exact test). Among the continued ABT cases, concomitant glucocorticoid treatment at ABT initiation was the strongest negative predictive factor of estimated TSS REM in univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses. Radiographic progression after ABT administration should be evaluated separately for dropout and non-dropout cases. Glucocorticoids at the initiation of ABT may serve as a predictive factor for joint destruction in long-term ABT use.
Keywords: Abatacept; modified total sharp score; radiographic progression; rheumatoid arthritis.