Establishment of age- and sex-adjusted reference data for hand bone mass and investigation of hand bone loss in patients with rheumatoid arthritis treated in clinical practice: an observational study from the DANBIO registry and the Copenhagen Osteoarthritis Study

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Lykke Midtbøll Ørnbjerg, Mikkel Østergaard, Trine Jensen, Lars Hyldstrup, Pernille Bach-Mortensen, Pernille Bøyesen, Anja Thormann, Ulrik Tarp, Wolfgang Peter Bøhme, Hanne Lindegaard, Uta Engling Poulsen, Anette Schlemmer, Niels Graudal, Anne Rødgaard, Jakob Espesen, Gina Birgitte Kollerup, Bente Glintborg, Ole Rintek Madsen, Dorte Vendelbo Jensen, Merete Lund Hetland

BACKGROUND: Rheumatoid arthritis is characterised by progressive joint destruction and loss of periarticular bone mass. Hand bone loss (HBL) has therefore been proposed as an outcome measure for treatment efficacy. A definition of increased HBL adjusted for age- and sex-related bone loss is lacking. In this study, we aimed to: 1) establish reference values for normal hand bone mass (bone mineral density measured by digital x-ray radiogrammetry (DXR-BMD)); and 2) examine whether HBL is normalised in rheumatoid arthritis patients during treatment with tumour necrosis factor alpha inhibitors (TNFI).

METHODS: DXR-BMD was measured from hand x-rays in a reference cohort (1485 men/2541 women) without arthritis randomly selected from an urban Danish population. Sex- and age-related HBL/year was estimated. DXR-BMD was measured in rheumatoid arthritis patients (n = 350: at start of TNFI, and ~2 years after TNFI start), of which 135 patients had three x-rays (~2 years prior to TNFI, at start of TNFI, and ~2 years after TNFI start). Individual HBL/year prior to and during TNFI was calculated and compared to reference values.

RESULTS: Estimated HBL/year varied strongly with age and sex. Compared to the reference values, 75 % of 135 patients had increased HBL prior to TNFI treatment and 59 % had increased HBL during TNFI treatment (p = 0.17, Chi-squared). In 38 % (38/101) of patients with increased HBL, HBL was normalised during TNFI treatment, whereas 47 % (16/34) of patients with normal HBL prior to TNFI had increased HBL during TNFI treatment. In the 350 patients, increased HBL during TNFI was associated with time-averaged 28-joint disease activity score (odds ratio 1.69 (95 % Confidence Interval 1.34-2.15)/unit increase, p < 0.001), and patients in time-averaged remission had lower HBL than patients without remission (0.0032 vs. 0.0058 g/cm(2)/year; p < 0.001, Mann-Whitney).

CONCLUSIONS: We established age- and sex-specific reference values for DXR-BMD in a large cohort without arthritis. HBL was increased in the majority of rheumatoid arthritis patients initiating TNFI in clinical practice, and only normalised in a minority during TNFI.

Original languageEnglish
Article number53
JournalArthritis Research & Therapy
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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