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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2019 Jan 1;58(1):149-153. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/key263.

Autoantibody status is not associated with early treatment response to first-line methotrexate in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis.

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Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands.
Department of Rheumatic Diseases, Pune, India.
Department of Rheumatology, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Department of Rheumatology, Lisbon Academic Medical Centre, Lisbon, Portugal.
Department of Rheumatology, UMass Memorial Medical Center, Central Massachusetts, MA, USA.



In RA, the relationship between autoantibody status and treatment response to MTX remains unclear. We investigated the association between autoantibody status and early remission in newly diagnosed RA patients treated with MTX using real-world data.


RA-patients initially treated with MTX were selected from an international observational database (METEOR). Patients were stratified into autoantibody-positive (RF- and/or ACPA-positive) or autoantibody negative (RF- and ACPA-negative). The effect of autoantibody status on the chance of achieving remission within 3 to 6 months was analysed using Cox-proportional hazards regression.


Data from 1826 RA patients were available for analysis. DAS remission was achieved in 17% (318/1826). This was similar in autoantibody-positive [17% (282/1629)] and -negative patients [18% (36/197)]. Hence, autoantibody positivity was not associated with remission [hazard ratio (HR) 0.89, 95% CI 0.57, 1.38]. Similar findings were found when stratified for MTX monotherapy (HR 0.75, 95% CI 0.41, 1.37) or combination treatment (HR 0.76, 95% CI 0.37, 1.54). Good physical function (HAQ < 0.5) was achieved in 33% (530/1590) of all patients. Autoantibody-positivity was also not associated with HAQ < 0.5 (HR 1.05, 95% CI 0.71, 1.57).


Autoantibody status is not associated with early remission in newly diagnosed RA-patients receiving MTX. This indicates that MTX is effective as an initial treatment strategy regardless of autoantibody status.

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