Rider, L. G., C. G. Parks, J. Wilkerson, A. I. Schiffenbauer, R. K. Kwok, P. Noroozi Farhadi, S. Nazir, R. Ritter, E. Sirotich, K. Kennedy, et al., "Baseline Factors Associated with Self-reported Disease Flares Following COVID-19 Vaccination among Adults with Systemic Rheumatic Disease: Results from the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance Vaccine Survey.", Rheumatology (Oxford, England), 2022. Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To examine the frequency of, and risk factors for, disease flare following COVID-19 vaccination in patients with systemic rheumatic disease (SRD).

METHODS: An international study was conducted from April 2 to August 16, 2021, using an online survey of 5619 adults with SRD for adverse events following COVID-19 vaccination, including flares of disease requiring a change in treatment. We examined risk factors identified a priori based on published associations with SRD activity and SARS-CoV-2 severity, including demographics, SRD type, comorbidities, vaccine type, cessation of immunosuppressive medications around vaccination, and history of reactions to non-COVID-19 vaccines, using multivariable logistic regression.

RESULTS: Flares requiring a change in treatment following COVID-19 vaccination were reported by 4.9% of patients. Compared with rheumatoid arthritis, certain SRD, including systemic lupus erythematosus (OR 1.51, 95%CI 1.03, 2.20), psoriatic arthritis (OR 1.95, 95%CI 1.20, 3.18), and polymyalgia rheumatica (OR 1.94, 95%CI 1.08, 2.48) were associated with higher odds of flare, while idiopathic inflammatory myopathies were associated with lower odds for flare (OR 0.54, 95%CI 0.31-0.96). The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was associated with higher odds of flare relative to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (OR 1.44, 95%CI 1.07, 1.95), as were a prior reaction to a non-COVID-19 vaccine (OR 2.50, 95%CI 1.76, 3.54) and female sex (OR 2.71, 95%CI 1.55, 4.72).

CONCLUSION: SRD flares requiring changes in treatment following COVID-19 vaccination were uncommon in this large international study. Several potential risk factors, as well as differences by disease type, warrant further examination in prospective cohorts.

Fotouh, A. A., M. O. N. A. HAMDY, F. Ali, E. F. Mohamed, A. Allam, W. A. Hassan, A. Elsaman, A. El-Najjar, M. A. Amer, D. Mosad, et al., "The Emerging Era of Interventional Imaging in Rheumatology: An Overview During the Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic.", Open access rheumatology : research and reviews, vol. 14, pp. 43-56, 2022. Abstract

Imaging has long been taking its place in the diagnosis, monitor, and prognosis of rheumatic diseases. It plays a vital role in the appraisal of treatment. Key progress in the clinical practice of rheumatology is the innovation of advanced imaging modalities; such as musculoskeletal ultrasound (MSUS), computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These modalities introduced a promising noninvasive method for visualizing bone and soft tissues to enable an improved diagnosis. The use of MSUS in rheumatology is considered a landmark in the evolution of the specialty and its ease of use and many applications in rheumatic diseases make it a forerunner instrument in the practice. The use of MSUS among rheumatologists must parallel the development rate of the excellence revealed in the specialty. Moreover, innovative interventional imaging in rheumatology (III-R) is gaining fame and key roles in the near future for a comprehensive management of rheumatic diseases with precision. This review article throws light on the emergence of these robust innovations that may reshape the guidelines and practice in rheumatology, in particular, efforts to enhance best practice during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic are endorsed.

Fathi, H. M., I. E. I. Gazzar, M. A. I. Elazeem, E. AboulKheir, N. M. Gamal, F. Ismail, R. E. R. Shereef, S. Tharwat, S. Elwan, N. Samy, et al., "Rheumatologists' knowledge and perception of COVID-19 and related vaccines: the vaXurvey2 online survey.", Rheumatology international, 2022. Abstract

The study aimed to explore the experience of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) infection and vaccine adverse events (AEs) among rheumatologists. A validated questionnaire was distributed as a Google form to rheumatologists across the country via social networking sites from late December 2021 till early January 2022. The questionnaire included questions regarding participants' socio-demographic details, COVID-19 infection and vaccination details with special emphasis on AEs. Out of 246 responses, 228 were valid. 200 (81.3%) responders had received the vaccine. The mean age of the 228 participants was 37.9 ± 8.5 years, 196 were females and 32 males (F:M 6.1:1) from 18 governorates across the country. Comorbidities were present in 54 subjects (27%). There was a history of highly suspicious or confirmed COVID-19 infection in 66.7% that were all managed at home. The COVID-19 vaccine was received by 200 and a booster dose of 18.5%. Obesity and musculoskeletal involvement co-morbidities were present only in those with AEs (9.1% and 5.5% respectively). AEs were present in 82%; 66.7% had injection-site tenderness, 50% fatigue, 35.5% fever, 15% chills, 42.5% myalgia, 14.5% arthralgia, 8% low back pain, headache 31%, dizziness 10%, sleepliness 16% and 15% developed post-vaccine. There were no differences according to the geolocation regarding the occurrence of COVID-19 infection (p = 0.19) or AEs post-vaccine (p = 0.58). The adverse events were mostly mild to moderate and tolerable which makes this work in agreement with other studies that support the broad safety of the vaccine in favor of the global benefit from mass vaccination.

Hernández-Molina, G., B. Kostov, P. Brito-Zerón, A. Vissink, T. Mandl, A. C. Hinrichs, L. Quartuccio, C. Baldini, R. Seror, A. Szántó, et al., "Characterization and outcomes of 414 patients with primary SS who developed hematological malignancies.", Rheumatology (Oxford, England), 2022. Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To characterize 414 patients with primary SS who developed hematological malignancies and to analyze how the main SS- and lymphoma-related features can modify the presentation patterns and outcomes.

METHODS: By January 2021, the Big Data Sjögren Project Consortium database included 11 966 patients fulfilling the 2002/2016 classification criteria. Hematological malignancies diagnosed according to the World Health Organization (WHO) classification were retrospectively identified.

RESULTS: There were 414 patients (355 women, mean age 57 years) with hematological malignancies (in 43, malignancy preceded at least one year the SS diagnosis). 376 (91%) patients had mature B cell malignancy, nearly half MALT lymphoma (n = 197), followed by DLBCL (n = 67), nodal MZL lymphoma (n = 29), CLL/SLL (n = 19) and follicular lymphoma (n = 17). Rates of complete response, relapses and death were 80%, 34% and 13%, respectively, with a 5-year survival rate of 86.5% after a mean follow-up of 8 years. There were significant differences in age at diagnosis (younger in MALT, older in CLL/SLL), predominant clinical presentation (glandular enlargement in MALT lymphoma, peripheral lymphadenopathy in nodal MZL and FL, constitutional symptoms in DLBCL, incidental diagnosis in CLL/SLL), therapeutic response (higher in MALT lymphoma, lower in DLBCL) and survival (better in MALT, nodal MZL and FL, worse in DLBCL).

CONCLUSION: In the largest reported study of hematological malignancies complicating primary SS, we confirm the overwhelming predominance of B cell lymphomas, especially MALT, with the salivary glands being the primary site of involvement. This highly-specific histopathological scenario is linked with the overall good prognosis with a 5-year survival rate of nearly 90%.

Medhat, E., G. Ayeldeen, H. H. Ahmed, O. Shaker, T. Gheita, and S. S. Ashour, "HOTAIR and THRIL Long Non Coding RNAs and Their Target Genes in Rheumatoid Arthritis patients.", Reports of biochemistry & molecular biology, vol. 10, issue 4, pp. 614-621, 2022. Abstract

Background: Rheumatoid arthtritis (RA) is a chronic systemic inflammatory autoimmune disease characterized by irreversible joint damage and deformity. The aim of this study is to investigate THRIL and HOTAIR serum expression and their target genes in Egyptian RA patients and to evaluate their relationship to the clinico-pathological data.

Methods: The present study included fifty-two RA patients and fifty-six healthy controls. RA patients were classified according to DAS28 score. All subjects were subjected to full history taking and clinical examination. Quantitative real time PCR was done to estimate the expression levels of serum THRIL and HOTAIR as well as their target genes tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and metalloproteinase 2 (MMP-2) were estimated by ELISA techniques.

Results: Results revealed that both THRIL and HOTAIR were statistically over expressed in RA patients compared to healthy group with p-value< 0.05. Results showed as well that the target genes for those long-non coding RNAs, TNF-α and MMP-2, were also significantly higher in RA patients compared to healthy controls.

Conclusion: Both THRIL and HOTAIR associated with their target genes, can be considered as diagnostic markers for RA.

Putman, M., K. Kennedy, E. Sirotich, J. W. Liew, S. E. Sattui, T. T. Moni, A. A. Akpabio, D. Alpizar-Rodriguez, S. Angevare, R. P. Beesley, et al., "COVID-19 vaccine perceptions and uptake: results from the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance Vaccine Survey.", The Lancet. Rheumatology, vol. 4, issue 4, pp. e237-e240, 2022.
Senosi, M. R., H. M. Fathi, N. A. M. Baki, O. Zaki, A. M. Magdy, and T. A. Gheita, "Bone mineral density, vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene polymorphisms, fracture risk assessment (FRAX), and trabecular bone score (TBS) in rheumatoid arthritis patients: connecting pieces of the puzzle.", Clinical rheumatology, 2022. Abstract

PURPOSE: To assess vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene polymorphisms and bone mineral density and to investigate the possible risk factors of osteoporosis and fracture in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

METHODS: A total of 97 RA patients and 45 matched controls were enrolled. Serum vitamin D level, VDR genotyping, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan, trabecular bone score (TBS), and fracture risk assessment (FRAX) in 10 years were assessed. Disease activity score (DAS28) and modified health assessment questionnaire (MHAQ) were measured.

RESULTS: The mean age of the patients was 47.9 ± 8.9 years; 85 females, 12 males (F:M 7.1:1) and mean disease duration 9.4 ± 6.2 years. DAS28 was 4.52 ± 1.04 and MHAQ 0.6 ± 0.4. There was a significant difference between cases and controls as regards DEXA and FRAX (p < 0.0001) but the TBS and VDR genotyping were comparable (p = 0.29 and p = 0.12, respectively). The vitamin D level was comparable with the control (9.3 ± 6.5 vs 10.4 ± 7.5 ng/mL, p = 0.4). None of the patients was receiving anti-osteoporotic therapy or biologic therapy. There was a significant association between the presence of osteoporosis and age, disease duration, menopause, and rheumatoid factor (RF) positivity. The TBS was significantly lower and FRAX higher in patients with positive RF and anti-CCP. FRAX was significantly related and the TBS inversely with the age, disease duration, serum uric acid, alkaline phosphatase, and MHAQ.

CONCLUSIONS: Reduced BMD and increased tendency to fractures are remarkable in RA patients. Vitamin D level was decreased in patients and control, and VDR gene polymorphisms were not linked to RA. TBS and FRAX are effective tools to assess osteoporotic fractures in RA. Key Points • Reduced bone mineral density (BMD) and increased tendency to fractures are remarkable in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. • Vitamin D level was decreased in patients and control, and VDR gene polymorphisms were not linked to RA. • Trabecular bone score (TBS) and fracture risk assessment (FRAX) in 10 years are effective tools to assess osteoporotic fractures in RA.

Salem, G. I., N. M. Gamal, E. A. Talaat, D. H. El-Hammady, N. Hammam, and T. A. Gheita, "Clinical Impact of the ABO Blood Type in Patients with Rheumatic Diseases: Is there a Link to the ABO and Rhesus?", Mediterranean journal of rheumatology, vol. 32, issue 3, pp. 237-242, 2021. Abstract

Objectives: Several studies have shown associations of ABO and Rh blood groups with various diseases; however, the relationship of ABO and Rh blood groups with rheumatic diseases are scarce. The aim of the present study was to examine whether there is an association between ABO and Rh blood groups and the types of rheumatic diseases.

Method: In this multi-centre cross-sectional study, sociodemographic data, type of rheumatic disease, and type ABO and Rh blood groups were examined for patients with different rheumatic diseases.

Results: A total of 304 patients; 207 (68.1%) were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and 40 (13.2%) had systemic lupus erythematosus. The patients were assessed for blood types; 37.8% patients had A type, 27.6% had B type, 19.1% had O type, and 15.4% had AB type. The Rh (+) blood group was more prevalent (89.1%) than Rh (-). Blood group A was more prevalent in patients with rheumatic disease, followed by B, O, and AB respectively, although there was no significant difference in the distribution of ABO groups among rheumatic diseases. Female gender, smoking, and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide are significantly different between the blood groups within rheumatic diseases.

Conclusion: The A and Rh (+) blood groups were more commonly observed in patients with rheumatic diseases. There was lack of association between types of rheumatic diseases and ABO blood groups. The study provides knowledge for the interaction between ABO blood groups and several risk factors related to rheumatic diseases and may serve a guide for future clinical studies.

Retamozo, S., N. Acar-Denizli, I. F. Horváth, W. - F. Ng, A. Rasmussen, X. Dong, X. Li, C. Baldini, P. Olsson, R. Priori, et al., "Influence of the age at diagnosis in the disease expression of primary Sjögren syndrome. Analysis of 12,753 patients from the Sjögren Big Data Consortium.", Clinical and experimental rheumatology, vol. 39 Suppl 133, issue 6, pp. 166-174, 2021. Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To analyse how the main components of the disease phenotype (sicca symptoms, diagnostic tests, immunological markers and systemic disease) can be driven by the age at diagnosis of primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS).

METHODS: By January 2021, the participant centres had included 12,753 patients from 25 countries that fulfilled the 2002/2016 classification criteria for pSS. The age at diagnosis was defined as the time when the attending physician confirmed fulfilment of the criteria. Patients were clustered according to age at diagnosis. 50 clusters with more than 100 observations (from 27 to 76 years) were used to study the influence of the age at diagnosis in the disease expression.

RESULTS: There was a consistent increase in the frequency of oral dryness according to the age at diagnosis, with a frequency of <90% in patients diagnosed at the youngest ages and >95% in those diagnosed at the oldest ages. The smooth curves that best fitted a linear model were the frequency of dry mouth (adjusted R2 0.87) and the frequency of abnormal oral tests (adjusted R2 0.72). Therefore, for each 1-year increase in the age at diagnosis, the frequency of dry mouth increased by 0.13%, and the frequency of abnormal oral diagnostic tests by 0.11%. There was a consistent year-by-year decrease in the frequency of all autoantibodies and immunological markers except for cryoglobulins. According to the linear models, for each 1-year increase in the age at diagnosis, the frequency of a positive result decreased by 0.57% (for anti-Ro antibodies), 0.47% (for RF) and 0.42% (for anti-La antibodies). The ESSDAI domains which showed a more consistent decrease were glandular and lymph node involvement (for each 1-year increase in the age at diagnosis, the frequency of activity decreased by 0.18%), and constitutional, cutaneous, and haematological involvements (the frequency decreased by 0.09% for each 1-year increase). In contrast, other domains showed an ascending pattern, especially pulmonary involvement (for each 1-year increase in the age at diagnosis, the frequency of activity increased by 0.22%), and peripheral nerve involvement (the frequency increased by 0.09% for each 1-year increase).

CONCLUSIONS: The influence of the age at diagnosis on the key phenotypic features of pSS is strong, and should be considered critical not only for designing a personalised diagnostic approach, but also to be carefully considered when analysing the results of diagnostic tests and immunological parameters, and when internal organ involvement is suspected at diagnosis.

Sen, P., L. Gupta, J. B. Lilleker, V. Aggarwal, S. Kardes, M. Milchert, T. Gheita, B. Salim, T. Velikova, A. E. Gracia-Ramos, et al., "COVID-19 vaccination in autoimmune disease (COVAD) survey protocol.", Rheumatology international, vol. 42, issue 1, pp. 23-29, 2022. Abstract

The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to be a cause of unprecedented global morbidity and mortality. Whilst COVID-19 vaccination has emerged as the only tangible solution to reducing poor clinical outcomes, vaccine hesitancy continues to be an obstacle to achieving high levels of vaccine uptake. This represents particular risk to patients with autoimmune diseases, a group already at increased risk of hospitalization and poor clinical outcomes related to COVID-19 infection. Whilst there is a paucity of long-term safety and efficacy data of COVID-19 vaccination in patients with autoimmune diseases, the current evidence strongly suggests that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of adverse effects and disease flares. Herein, we report the protocol of the COVID-19 Vaccination in Autoimmune Diseases (COVAD) study, an ongoing international collaborative study involving 29 countries and over 110 investigators.