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Are glucocorticoids harmful to bone in early rheumatoid arthritis?

Authors
  • Lems, Willem F
Type
Published Article
Journal
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publisher
Wiley (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
May 01, 2014
Volume
1318
Pages
50–54
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1111/nyas.12430
PMID: 24739059
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

In the past, patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were treated with monotherapy with conventional drugs, such as sulfasalazine, methotrexate, and intramuscular gold, which often leads to persistent arthritis, loss of functional capacity, and decreased quality of life. Both active RA and the use of high-dose glucocorticoids (GCs) are associated with generalized bone loss and fractures, but it is well known that GCs have a strong immunosuppressive effect. With the introduction of tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α)-blockers and other biologics, clinical remission is a realistic target in approximately half of the early RA patients; the same seems to be true for the use of methotrexate with chronic low-dose or initially high-dose GCs. With the use of a treat-to-target strategy focusing on clinical remission or low disease activity in early RA patients, the negative effects of systemic inflammation on bone can be arrested, and both local bone loss (in the joints) and generalized bone loss at the spine and hips can be prevented.

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