Objective: To evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of 46 weeks of treatment with cyclosporine (5 mg/kg/day) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: A 48-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter study of cyclosporine was conducted in 122 patients with active RA. Patients were evaluated by objective and subjective clinical and radiologic measurements at baseline and at the end of the study.
Results: Statistically significant improvement and clinically important changes were seen for the number of tender joints, number of swollen joints, pain score, duration of morning stiffness, and Lee's functional index in the cyclosporine-treated group at the end of the study. Radiographic examination showed that cyclosporine was capable of retarding joint destruction. In the cyclosporine-treated group, serum creatinine levels increased by 17.5 mumoles/liter (23%) at week 24 and by 21.8 mumoles/liter (26%) at week 48. There was no significant difference in mean serum creatinine levels in patients treated with cyclosporine alone and those treated with cyclosporine plus nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs. Five patients had to be treated with antihypertensive drugs, and 2 patients were withdrawn from the study because of increased serum creatinine.
Conclusion: The study shows that cyclosporine seems to have disease-modifying effects in RA.