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Commentary

The window of opportunity: a relevant concept for axial spondyloarthritis

Philip C Robinson* and Matthew A Brown

Author Affiliations

University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, Translational Research Institute, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Ipswich Road, Woolloongabba 4102, Australia

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2014, 16:109  doi:10.1186/ar4561

Published: 12 May 2014

Abstract

The window of opportunity is a concept critical to rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Early treatment changes the outcome of rheumatoid arthritis treatment, in that response rates are higher with earlier disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug treatment and damage is substantially reduced. Axial spondyloarthritis is an inflammatory axial disease encompassing both nonradiographic axial spondyloarthritis and established ankylosing spondylitis. In axial spondyloarthritis, studies of magnetic resonance imaging as well as tumor necrosis factor inhibitor treatment and withdrawal studies all suggest that early effective suppression of inflammation has the potential to reduce radiographic damage. This potential would suggest that the concept of a window of opportunity is relevant not only to rheumatoid arthritis but also to axial spondyloarthritis. The challenge now remains to identify high-risk patients early and to commence treatment without delay. Developments in risk stratification include new classification criteria, identification of clinical risk factors, biomarkers, genetic associations, potential antibody associations and an ankylosing spondylitis-specific microbiome signature. Further research needs to focus on the evidence for early intervention and the early identification of high-risk individuals.