AMSTERDAM – In patients with axial spondyloarthritis, new evidence presented at the European Congress of Rheumatology associated tumor necrosis factor inhibitor therapy with prevention of sacroiliac joint progression.
“We already know that biologics can decelerate progression in the spine. The goal of this analysis was to determine whether there is also reduced risk of progression in the sacroiliac joints,” reported, of Charité University Clinic in Berlin.
The patients were drawn from thetrial (Evidence-based Stimulation Trial With Human rFSH in Europe and Rest of World 1), which established the efficacy of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor etanercept over sulfasalazine in patients with early axSpA ( ). In ESTHER, all patients not in remission after 1 year continued on or were switched to maintenance etanercept. These patients provided the basis for Dr. Rios-Rodriguez and her colleagues’ analysis.
In this study of patients who remained on therapy, two blinded and experienced readers scored the radiographs for sacroiliac joint damage. A standardized modified New York grading system was employed. In addition, blinded readers graded MRI scans with the Berlin MRI Scoring System for inflammatory changes. Only 35% of patients had radiographic axSpA at baseline, reflecting the fact that ESTHER enrolled patients with early-stage axSpA.
A variety of factors were evaluated for their association with progression, including age, symptom duration, treatment duration, and HLA-B27 positivity. Of these factors, elevated C-reactive protein, defined as more than 5 mg/L, and the presence of sacroiliac joint osteitis on MRI emerged as predictive factors on univariate analysis.
“Evaluated with two different analyses, both of these factors were found to be independently associated with radiographic progression,” Dr. Rios-Rodriguez said. However, she reiterated that these factors were meaningful only at year 2 and 4 when progression was seen.
“Our results show a deceleration of progression of structural damage in sacroiliac joints in patients under long-term TNF inhibitor therapy. These findings match the deceleration of spine progression observed in previous studies under similar conditions,” she said, noting that the predictors for structural damage in sacroiliac joints identified in this study are similar to the ones identified for the progression in the spine.
“To our knowledge, our data on sacroiliac joints is unique and will continue to be so in the coming years,” she said.
Pfizer provided funding for the study. Dr. Rios-Rodriguez reported financial relationships with AbbVie and Novartis.
SOURCE: . Abstract OP0025.