Remission in Early Rheumatoid Arthritis

Margaret H. Y. Ma, Ian C. Scott, Gabrielle H. Kingsley, David L. Scott

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66 Citations (Scopus)


Objective. We systematically reviewed remission as an outcome measure in observational studies and randomized controlled trials (RCT) in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Our objectives were to identify its frequency using different criteria, to determine the influence of different treatment strategies on remission, and to review the effects of remission on radiological outcomes. Methods. Pubmed, Medline and Embase were searched using the following terms: Early Rheumatoid Arthritis or Early RA combined with Remission, Treatment, anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) or Disease-modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARD). Remissions were reported using American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria and Disease Activity Score (DAS) criteria. Results. Seventeen observational studies (4762 patients) reported remission in 27% of patients, 17% by ACR criteria and 33% by DAS criteria. Twenty RCT (4 comparing DMARD monotherapies, 13 comparing monotherapy with combination therapies, 3 comparing combination therapies) enrolled 4290 patients. ACR remissions occurred in 16% receiving DMARD monotherapy and 24% combination therapies (random effects OR 1.69, 95% CI 1.12-2.36). DAS remissions occurred in 26% and 42%, respectively (OR 2.01, 95% CI 1.46-2.78). Observational studies showed continuing radiological progression despite remission. RCT showed less radiological progression in remission when treated with combination therapy compared to monotherapies. Conclusion. Remission is a realistic treatment goal in early RA. Combination therapies using DMARD with or without TNF inhibitors increase remissions. Radiological progression occurred in remission but is reduced by combination therapies. ACR and DAS remission criteria are not directly comparable and standardization is needed. (First Release June 1 2010; J Rheumatol 2010; 37:1444-53; doi:10.3899/jrheum.091131)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1444 - 1453
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


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