Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Sustained rheumatoid arthritis remission is uncommon in clinical practice

Femke HM Prince*, Vivian P Bykerk, Nancy A Shadick, Bing Lu, Jing Cui, Michelle Frits, Christine K Iannaccone, Michael E Weinblatt and Daniel H Solomon

Author Affiliations

Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2012, 14:R68  doi:10.1186/ar3785


See related editorial by Aletaha, http://arthritis-research.com/content/14/3/116

Published: 19 March 2012

Abstract

Introduction

Remission is an important goal of therapy in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but data on duration of remission are lacking. Our objective was to describe the duration of remission in RA, assessed by different criteria.

Methods

We evaluated patients from the Brigham and Women's Rheumatoid Arthritis Sequential Study (BRASS) not in remission at baseline with at least 2 years of follow-up. Remission was assessed according to the Disease Activity Score 28-C-reactive protein (DAS28-CRP4), Simplified Disease Activity Index (SDAI), and Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI) scores, and the recently proposed American College of Rheumatology (ACR)/European League against Rheumatism (EULAR) criteria for remission. Analyses were performed by using Kaplan-Meier survival curves.

Results

We identified 871 subjects with ≥2 years of follow-up. Of these subjects, 394 were in remission at one or more time-points and not in remission at baseline, according to at least one of the following criteria: DAS28-CRP < 2.6 (n = 309), DAS28-CRP < 2.3 (n = 275), SDAI (n = 168), CDAI (n = 170), and 2010 ACR/EULAR (n = 158). The median age for the 394 subjects at entrance to BRASS was 56 years; median disease duration was 8 years; 81% were female patients; and 72% were seropositive. Survival analysis performed separately for each remission criterion demonstrated that < 50% of subjects remained in remission 1 year later. Median remission survival time was 1 year. Kaplan-Meier curves of the various remission criteria did not significantly differ (P = 0.29 according to the log-rank test).

Conclusions

This study shows that in clinical practice, a minority of RA patients are in sustained remission.