Occult HBV infection may negatively impact on drug survival in patients with rheumatoid arthritis on treatment with a first biologic drug. An appraisal from the Biologic Apulian Registry (BIOPURE)

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G. Carlino
M. Fornaro
L. Santo
R. Bucci
A. Semeraro
L. Quarta
F. D'Onofrio
A. Marsico
C. Zuccaro
P.C. Falappone
D. Mazzotta
F.P. Cantatore
M. Muratore
F. Iannone *
(*) Corresponding Author:
F. Iannone | florenzo.iannone@uniba.it


We performed a retrospective analysis to evaluate the survival on first line biologic drug of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with potential occult HBV infection (pOBI). We analysed longitudinal data of 486 consecutive RA patients starting a first biological drug in a time frame from 1st January 2008 to 31st December 2014. Demographic and disease related characteristics were collected at baseline and at the last observation visit. Baseline serological markers of HBV infection and causes of treatment discontinuation were also recorded. Primary endpoint was the influence of pOBI on drug survival, estimated by Kaplan-Meier life table analysis. Estimates hazard ratios (HRs) of drug discontinuation, adjusted for disease characteristics, biological drug class and HBcAb status were computed by Cox-regression models. The retention rate was significantly lower in pOBI positive patients (58.2%) when compared to pOBI negative ones (67.8%) and this data was confirmed also when only discontinuation due to ineffectiveness was considered (pOBI positive 66.4% vs pOBI negative 75.3%, long rank 7.93, p=0.005). Cox regression models showed a significant association between HBcAb-neg (HR 0.58, 0.41-0.84), higher ESR-DAS28 at baseline (HR 1.07, 1.03-1.11) or RF/ACPA-neg (HR 1.46, 1.04-2.06) and drug discontinuation. Occult HBV infection seems to influence negatively the effectiveness of biological therapies in RA patients.

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