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BACKGROUND: To characterise disease course and remission in a longitudinal observational study of newly diagnosed, initially treatment-naïve patients with seropositive rheumatoid arthritis (RA). METHODS: Patients with early untreated seropositive RA were recruited from 28 UK centres. Multiple clinical and laboratory measures were collected every 3 months for up to 18 months. Disease activity was measured using the 28-joint Disease Activity Score with C-reactive protein (DAS28-CRP) and Simplified Disease Activity Index (SDAI). Logistic regression models examined clinical predictors of 6-month remission and latent class mixed models characterised disease course. RESULTS: We enrolled 275 patients of whom 267 met full eligibility and provided baseline data. According to SDAI definition, 24.3% attained 6-month remission. Lower baseline Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) and SDAI predicted 6-month remission (p = 0.013 and 0.011). Alcohol intake and baseline prescribing of methotrexate with a second disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD; vs monotherapy without glucocorticoids) were also predictive. Three distinct SDAI trajectory subpopulations emerged; corresponding to an inadequate responder group (6.5%), and higher and lower baseline activity responder groups (22.4% and 71.1%). Baseline HAQ and Short Form-36 Health Survey - Mental Component Score (SF-36 MCS) distinguished these groups. In addition, a number of baseline clinical predictors correlated with disease activity severity within subpopulations. Beneficial effects of alcohol intake were found across subpopulations. CONCLUSION: Three distinct disease trajectory subpopulations were identified. Differential effects of functional and mental well-being, alcohol consumption, and baseline RA medication prescribing on disease activity severity were found across subpopulations. Heterogeneity across trajectories cannot be fully explained by baseline clinical predictors. We hypothesise that biological markers collected early in disease course (within 6 months) may help patient management and better targeting of existing and novel therapies.

Original publication




Journal article


Ther adv musculoskelet dis

Publication Date





SDAI trajectories, disease activity, latent class–mixed models, remission, rheumatoid arthritis