Clinical Edge Journal Scan

Commentary: Sex differences, pregnancy, a quicker CRP test, and new drugs in PsA, December 2022

Dr. Chandran scans the journals, so you don't have to!

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Vinod Chandran, MBBS, MD, DM, PhD

Research published during the past month focused mostly on sex differences, biomarkers, and treatment. Sex differences in psoriatic arthritis (PsA) are a significant focus of current research. One major question is how clinical features differ between men and women. Furer and colleagues investigated differences in musculoskeletal ultrasonographic features between men and women with PsA. In a prospective study including 70 men and 88 women, they demonstrated that although the total synovitis and tenosynovitis scores were similar between the two sexes, compared with women, men had higher total ultrasound and gray scale enthesitis scores (both P = .01) and sonographic active inflammatory score (P = .005). Given the uncertainty associated with the clinical diagnosis of enthesitis, this study emphasizes the importance of careful ultrasonographic evaluation when evaluating enthesitis patients, especially women.

It is important to investigate pregnancy outcomes in women with inflammatory arthritis, including PsA, to appropriately counsel and manage patients in the reproductive-age group. Preeclampsia is an important pregnancy outcome that is less well studied in PsA. Secher and colleagues analyzed data from registries in Sweden and Denmark that included singleton pregnant women with rheumatoid arthritis (n = 1739), axial spondyloarthritis (n = 819), and PsA (n = 489) who were matched with 17,390, 8190, and 4890 control pregnant women, respectively. They found that compared with the control women, the risk for preeclampsia was much higher in women with PsA (adjusted odds ratio [aOR; adjusted for country, maternal age, parity, year of delivery, body mass index (BMI), smoking, and education] 1.85; 95% CI 1.10-3.12), with the risk being primarily driven by the receipt of monotherapy for PsA before pregnancy (aOR 2.72; 95% CI 1.44-5.13), probably reflecting the presence of more severe disease. Women with PsA who tend to have higher BMI and active disease need to be counseled about the risk for preeclampsia and be carefully monitored.

The Disease Activity index for PsA (DAPSA) is a validated instrument used in clinical practice to assess PsA disease activity. One drawback of this instrument is that it requires testing for C-reactive protein (CRP), the results of which may not be available immediately, making it difficult to use DAPSA for implementing treating-to-target strategies during a clinic visit. To alleviate this issue, a quick quantitative CRP (qCRP) assay was developed. In a multicenter, cross-sectional study including 104 patients with PsA and available CRP values (measured by routine laboratory and qCRP assays), Proft and colleagues demonstrated that 98.1% of patients were similarly categorized into disease activity groups (remission and low, moderate, and high disease activity) using DAPSA based on qCRP (Q-DAPSA) and DAPSA. The agreement between the two instruments was excellent (weighted Cohen kappa 0.980; 95% CI 0.952-1.000). Thus, the Q-DAPSA may be used in place of DAPSA when evaluating PsA disease activity.

Regarding treatment, in an exploratory analysis of SELECT-PsA 1, McInnes and colleagues demonstrated that, at week 104, a similar proportion of patients receiving 15/30 mg upadacitinib vs adalimumab achieved ≥ 20% improvement in the American College of Rheumatology (ACR20) criteria (69.0%/69.5% vs 63.4%), whereas significantly more patients receiving 30 mg upadacitinib vs adalimumab achieved minimal disease activity (45.9% vs 37.8%; P < .05). The safety profiles of upadacitinib and adalimumab were comparable. Moreover, analyses of 52-week outcome data from the ongoing phase 3 KEEPsAKE 1 study of risankizumab (IL-23 inhibitor) by Kristensen and colleagues showed that among patients who received risankizumab continuously, the ACR20 response increased from 57.3% at week 24 to 70.0% at week 52. No new safety signals were identified. Thus, upadacitinib and risankizumab are newer, safe, and effective disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs for PsA.

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