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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006 Jun;1069:300-6.

Oral pulsed dexamethasone therapy in early rheumatoid arthritis: a pilot study.

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Department of Rheumatology, Saint Franciscus Hospital, Kleiweg 500, 3045 PM Rotterdam, Netherlands.


Pulse therapy with high-dose glucocorticoids (GCs) is widely used as "bridging therapy" for the treatment of patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Oral pulsed dexamethasone therapy has never been used for this purpose. We determined the clinical efficacy of oral pulsed dexamethasone treatment in patients with early active RA, concomitantly starting with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Fourteen early RA patients, glucocorticoid-naive and with active disease for less than 1 year were included. Ten patients were treated with oral pulsed dexamethasone therapy for 4 days in a row. Of this group, four patients received 10 mg dexamethasone/day, three patients 20 mg/day, and three patients 40 mg/day. As controls, four patients were treated with intramuscular methylprednisolone injections. Disease activity (ascertained by disease activity score [DAS]) and biochemical variables were measured at base line, and biweekly thereafter for up to 4 weeks, and monthly thereafter for up to 3 months. A decrease in disease activity, similar in all subgroups, was observed. Nine of 10 patients responded favorably (decrease in DAS of >1.2) 4 weeks after the start of the study. This response was sustained in the months thereafter. One patient did not respond at all, and disease progression during treatment was observed in one patient. No side effects were reported. Only once was a decrease in cortisol level observed; this was at 2 weeks after the start of the study (0.03 micromol/L, reference value 0.18-0.70 micromol/L). Oral pulsed dexamethasone therapy seems to be effective and safe as bridging therapy in early rheumatoid arthritis. The results of the present study justify a long-term controlled trial to compare oral pulsed dexamethasone treatment (10 mg dexamethasone, once weekly for 4 weeks) with the standard GC regimes in the near future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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