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Ann Rheum Dis. 2007 Dec;66(12):1675-8. Epub 2007 Jul 31.

Baseline serum RANKL levels may serve to predict remission in rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with TNF antagonists.

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  • 1Rheumatology Service, Hospital Universitario de la Princesa, c/Diego de León 62, 28006 Madrid, Spain.



The objective of this study was to investigate whether baseline receptor activator for nuclear factor kappaB ligand (RANKL) and osteoprotegerin (OPG) serum (s) levels can predict the therapeutic response to TNF antagonists (a-TNF).


We studied 75 rheumatoid arthritis patients (81% female) with a longstanding refractory disease. The variables of disease activity, physical function and sRANKL and sOPG levels were determined before and after both 12-14 and 28-30 weeks of a-TNF therapy (65 adalimumab, 10 infliximab). Remission was defined by a 28 joint count disease activity score (DAS28) </=2.6 and clinical response by a reduction in DAS28>/=1.2 at both 3- and 7-month follow-up visits.


In most patients, disease activity was severe, as reflected by a baseline DAS28 score of 5.9+/-1 (mean+/-SD), an HAQ of 1.6 (1.1 to 2.1) (median (interquartile range (IQR))) and a CRP 15 mg/l (IQR: 9 to 24). The sRANKL levels and RANKL/OPG ratio in patients that achieved remission were significantly lower at baseline than in the remaining patients at both 3 and 7 months of follow-up. The sOPG levels correlated with the HAQ and the physician's disease assessment and diminished significantly after a-TNF treatment. However, no significant association was detected between the therapeutic response profile and sOPG levels.


These data suggest that in patients receiving a-TNF treatment, lower serum levels of RANKL and RANKL/OPG ratio may serve to predict remission.

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