Aim: The Certolizumab–Optimal Prevention of joint damage for Early Rheumatoid Arthritis (C-OPERA) study demonstrated that in methotrexate (MTX)-naïve early RA patients with poor prognostic factors, 1-year certolizumab pegol (CZP) therapy added to the first year of 2-year optimized MTX therapy brings radiographic and clinical benefits through 2 years even after stopping CZP. This exploratory analysis aimed to identify factors at baseline and at CZP discontinuation associated with successful CZP discontinuation. Methods: MTX-naïve early RA patients with poor prognostic factors entered C-OPERA (NCT01451203), a multicenter, randomized controlled trial. Patients were randomized to CZP + MTX (n = 159) or PBO + MTX (n = 157); those who completed the 1-year, double-blind period received MTX alone in Year 2 (CZP + MTX→MTX, n = 108; PBO + MTX→MTX, n = 71). Association between factors at baseline or at discontinuation of CZP and clinical/radiographic outcomes were evaluated by multiple logistic regression analysis. Predictive value cut-offs were calculated using receiver operating characteristic analysis. Results: Sex (male) and low baseline Disease Activity Score of 28 joints – erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28-ESR) were associated with simple disease activity index (SDAI) remission (≤3.3), whereas high baseline DAS28-ESR and modified total Sharp score (mTSS) were associated with clinically relevant radiographic progression (yearly progression mTSS > 3) at Week 104 (across both treatment arms). Low DAS28-ESR (<2.1) and rheumatoid factor (RF; <74 IU/mL) at discontinuation of CZP were associated with SDAI remission at Week 104. At Week 104, SDAI remission was achieved by 75.0% (42/56) of patients with low DAS28-ESR and RF at discontinuation, compared to 15.4% (2/13) of patients with high DAS28-ESR and RF. Conclusion: Patients with low RF and low disease activity after treatment with CZP + MTX may be able to discontinue CZP without risk of loss of response.
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