The aim of this study was to evaluate the predictive value of biological, radiological and clinical parameters for the progression of radiographic joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients treated with conventional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). We analyzed the 145 patients with active RA for less than 5 years who were participating in the prospective 1-year randomized controlled trial of tocilizumab (SAMURAI trial) as a control arm treated with conventional DMARDs. Progression of joint damage was assessed by sequential radiographs read by two independent blinded X-ray readers and scored for bone erosion and joint space narrowing (JSN) using the van der Heijde-modified Sharp method. Multivariate analysis revealed that increased urinary levels of C-terminal crosslinked telopeptide of type II collagen (U-CTX-II), an increased urinary total pyridinoline/total deoxypyridinoline (U-PYD/DPD) ratio and low body mass index (BMI) at baseline were independently associated with a higher risk for progression of bone erosion. In addition to these three variables, the JSN score at baseline was also significantly associated with an increased risk of progression of the JSN score and total Sharp score. High baseline U-CTX-II levels, U-PYD/DPD ratio and JSN score and a low BMI are independent predictive markers for the radiographically evident joint damage in patients with RA treated with conventional DMARDs.
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