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Human Frality

March 2010

Vitamin D: what is an adequate vitamin D level and how much supplementation is necessary?

Strong evidence indicates that many or most adults in the United States and Europe would benefit from vitamin D supplements with respect to fracture and fall prevention, and possibly other public health targets, such as cardiovascular health, diabetes and cancer. This review discusses the amount of vitamin D supplementation needed and a desirable 25-hydroxyvitamin D level to be achieved for optimal musculoskeletal health. Vitamin D modulates fracture risk in two ways: by decreasing falls and increasing bone density. Two most recent meta-analyses of double-blind randomised controlled trials came to the conclusion that vitamin D reduces the risk of falls by 19%, the risk of hip fracture by 18% and the risk of any non-vertebral fracture by 20%; however, this benefit was dose dependent. Fall prevention was only observed in a trial of at least 700 IU vitamin D per day, and fracture prevention required a received dose (treatment dose*adherence) of more than 400 IU vitamin D per day. Anti-fall efficacy started with achieved 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of at least 60 nmol l(-1) (24 ng ml(-1)) and anti-fracture efficacy started with achieved 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels of at least 75 nmol l(-1) (30 ng ml(-1)) and both endpoints improved further with higher achieved 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. Founded on these evidence-based data derived from the general older population, vitamin D supplementation should be at least 700-1000 IU per day and taken with good adherence to cover the needs for both fall and fracture prevention. Ideally, the target range for 25-hydroxyvitamin D should be at least 75 nmol l(-1), which may need more than 700-1,000 IU vitamin D in individuals with severe vitamin D deficiency or those overweight.

Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2009 Dec;23(6):789-95.

High prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy.

During the past decade, major advances have been made in vitamin D research that transcend the simple concept that vitamin D is Important for the prevention of rickets in children and has little physiologic relevance for adults. Inadequate vitamin D, in addition to causing rickets, prevents children from attaining their genetically programmed peak bone mass, contributes to and exacerbates osteoporosis in adults, and causes the often painful bone disease osteomalacia. Adequate vitamin D is also important for proper muscle functioning, and controversial evidence suggests it may help prevent type 1 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and many common cancers. Vitamin D inadequacy has been reported in approximately 36% of otherwise healthy young adults and up to 57% of general medicine inpatients in the United States and in even higher percentages in Europe. Recent epidemiological data document the high prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy among elderly patients and especially among patients with osteoporosis. Factors such as low sunlight exposure, age-related decreases in cutaneous synthesis, and diets low in vitamin D contribute to the high prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy. Vitamin D production from cutaneous synthesis or intake from the few vitamin D-rich or enriched foods typically occurs only intermittently. Supplemental doses of vitamin D and sensible sun exposure could prevent deficiency in most of the general population. The purposes of this article are to examine the prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy and to review the potential implications for skeletal and extraskeletal health.

Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Mar;81(3):353-73.

Osteoporotic fractures: a brain or bone disease?

Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder that predisposes individuals to increased risk of fracture. However, most osteoporotic fractures occur in women who do not meet criteria for osteoporosis. Hence, bone density, by itself, is a relatively poor predictor of fracture. Age and age-related factors are now recognized as increasingly important in determining fracture risk. Osteoporotic fractures are associated with increased disability and mortality, suggesting that osteoporosis may be a clinical manifestation of an underlying disease process affecting multiple systems. The systems affected, the musculo-skeletal system and the central nervous system, are shared in many respects with the frailty syndrome. Vitamin D deficiency is a major contributor to the frailty syndrome, osteoporosis, and osteoporotic fractures. Its effects are mediated by the development of cerebrovascular disease, postural instability, muscle weakness, and bone fragility. Thus, osteoporotic fractures result from both a bone and brain disease.

Curr Osteoporos Rep. 2008 Jun;6(2):57-61.

Effects of vitamin D supplementation and exercise training on physical performance in Chilean vitamin D deficient elderly subjects.

The aim was to assess the effects of resistance training and vitamin D supplementation on physical performance of healthy elderly subjects. Ninety-six subjects, aged 70 years or more with 25 OH vitamin D levels of 16 ng/ml or less, were randomized to a resistance training or control group. Trained and control groups were further randomized to receive in a double blind fashion, vitamin D 400 IU plus 800 mg of calcium per day or calcium alone. Subjects were followed for nine months. Serum 25 OH vitamin D increased from 12.4+/-2.2 to 25.8+/-6.5 ng/ml among subjects supplemented with vitamin D. Trained subjects had significant improvements in quadriceps muscle strength, the short physical performance test and timed up and go. The latter improved more in trained subjects supplemented with vitamin D. At the end of the follow up, gait speed was higher among subjects supplemented with vitamin (whether trained or not) than in non-supplemented subjects (838+/-147 and 768+/-127 m/12 min, respectively, p=0.02). Romberg ratio was lower among supplemented controls than non-supplemented trained subjects (128+/-40% and 144+/-37%, respectively, p=0.05). In conclusion, vitamin D supplementation improved gait speed and body sway, and training improved muscle strength.

Exp Gerontol. 2006 Aug;41(8):746-52

Athletic performance and vitamin D.

PURPOSE: Activated vitamin D (calcitriol) is a pluripotent pleiotropic secosteroid hormone. As a steroid hormone, which regulates more than 1000 vitamin D-responsive human genes, calcitriol may influence athletic performance. Recent research indicates that intracellular calcitriol levels in numerous human tissues, including nerve and muscle tissue, are increased when inputs of its substrate, the prehormone vitamin D, are increased. METHODS: We reviewed the world’s literature for evidence that vitamin D affects physical and athletic performance. RESULTS: Numerous studies, particularly in the German literature in the 1950s, show vitamin D-producing ultraviolet light improves athletic performance. Furthermore, a consistent literature indicates physical and athletic performance is seasonal; it peaks when 25-hydroxy-vitamin D [25(OH)D] levels peak, declines as they decline, and reaches its nadir when 25(OH)D levels are at their lowest. Vitamin D also increases the size and number of Type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers. Most cross-sectional studies show that 25(OH)D levels are directly associated with musculoskeletal performance in older individuals. Most randomized controlled trials, again mostly in older individuals, show that vitamin D improves physical performance. CONCLUSIONS: Vitamin D may improve athletic performance in vitamin D-deficient athletes. Peak athletic performance may occur when 25(OH)D levels approach those obtained by natural, full-body, summer sun exposure, which is at least 50 ng x mL(-1). Such 25(OH)D levels may also protect the athlete from several acute and chronic medical conditions.

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 May;41(5):1102-10.

Iodine: deficiency and therapeutic considerations.

Iodine deficiency is generally recognized as the most commonly preventable cause of mental retardation and the most common cause of endocrinopathy (goiter and primary hypothyroidism). Iodine deficiency becomes particularly critical in pregnancy due to the consequences for neurological damage during fetal development as well as during lactation. The safety of therapeutic doses of iodine above the established safe upper limit of 1 mg is evident in the lack of toxicity in the Japanese population that consumes 25 times the median intake of iodine consumption in the United States. Japan’s population suffers no demonstrable increased incidence of autoimmune thyroiditis or hypothyroidism. Studies using 3.0- to 6.0-mg doses to effectively treat fibrocystic breast disease may reveal an important role for iodine in maintaining normal breast tissue architecture and function. Iodine may also have important antioxidant functions in breast tissue and other tissues that concentrate iodine via the sodium iodide symporter.

Altern Med Rev. 2008 Jun;13(2):116-27.

Iodine nutrition in the United States. Trends and public health implications: iodine excretion data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys I and III (1971-1974 and 1988-1994).

Iodine deficiency in a population causes increased prevalence of goiter and, more importantly, may increase the risk for intellectual deficiency in that population. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys [NHANES I (1971-1974) and (NHANES III (1988-1994)] measured urinary iodine (UI) concentrations. UI concentrations are an indicator of the adequacy of iodine intake for a population. The median UI concentrations in iodine-sufficient populations should be greater than 10 microg/dL, and no more than 20% of the population should have UI concentrations less than 5 microg/dL. Median UI concentrations from both NHANES I and NHANES III indicate adequate iodine intake for the overall US population, but the median concentration decreased more than 50% between 1971-1974 (32.0+/-0.6 microg/dL) and 1988-1994 (14.5+/-0.3 microg/dL). Low UI concentrations (<5 microg/dL) were found in 11.7% of the 1988-1994 population, a 4.5-fold increase over the proportion in the 1971-1974 population. The percentage of people excreting low concentrations of iodine (UI, <5 microg/dL) increased in all age groups. In pregnant women, 6.7%, and in women of child-bearing age, 14.9% had UI concentrations below 5 microg/dL. The findings in 1988-1994, although not indicative of iodine deficiency in the overall U.S. population, define a trend that must be monitored.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998 Oct;83(10):3401-8.

Anabolic applications of androgens for functional limitations associated with aging and chronic illness.

Total and free testosterone concentrations decline progressively with advancing age because of defects at all levels of the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis. Low total and bioavailable testosterone levels have been associated with decreased skeletal muscle mass, muscle strength, physical function, bone mineral density, and fracture risk, although these associations are weak. The risks and health benefits of long-term testosterone remain poorly understood. Physiologic testosterone replacement of young, androgen-deficient men and older men with low testosterone levels is associated with an increase in fat-free mass, grip strength, and fractional muscle protein synthesis, but we do not know whether testosterone replacement improves quadriceps strength, power, muscle fatigability, and physical function in older men, and whether it can reduce the risk of disability and falls. Testosterone replacement increases vertebral bone mineral density in young hypogonadal men and older men with low testosterone levels, but we do not know whether testosterone reduces fracture risk. Concerns about the potential adverse effects of testosterone on the prostate have encouraged the development of selective androgen receptor modulators that increase muscle mass while sparing the prostate.

Front Horm Res. 2009;37:163-82.

Double-blind treatment of major depression with dehydroepiandrosterone.

OBJECTIVE: This study was designed to assess possible antidepressant effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), an abundant adrenocortical hormone in humans. METHOD: Twenty-two patients with major depression, either medication-free or on stabilized antidepressant regimens, received either DHEA (maximum dose = 90 mg/day) or placebo for 6 weeks in a double-blind manner and were rated at baseline and at the end of the 6 weeks with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Patients previously stabilized with antidepressants had the study medication added to that regimen; others received DHEA or placebo alone. RESULTS: DHEA was associated with a significantly greater decrease in Hamilton depression scale ratings than was placebo. Five of the 11 patients treated with DHEA, compared with none of the 11 given placebo, showed a 50% decrease or greater in depressive symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that DHEA treatment may have significant antidepressant effects in some patients with major depression. Further, larger-scale trials are warranted.

Am J Psychiatry. 1999 Apr;156(4):646-9.

Low dose dehydroepiandrosterone affects behavior in hypopituitary androgen-deficient women: a placebo-controlled trial.

Thirty-eight women, aged 25-65 yr, with androgen deficiency due to hypopituitarism were treated with oral dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA; 30 mg/d if <45 yr of age and 20 mg if > or =45 yr of age) for 6 months in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind study, followed by a 6-month open treatment period. The administration of DHEA raised the serum levels of DHEAS to normal age-related reference ranges and increased androstenedione and T to subnormal levels. Androgen effects on skin and/or pubic and/or axillary hair were observed in 84% (32 of 38) of the women after all received 6 months of DHEA treatment. No such effects were observed after the placebo treatment. These effects after 6 months were correlated with the serum levels of DHEAS (r = 0.37; P = 0.03), androstenedione (r = 0.42; P = 0.01), and T (r = 0.37; P = 0.03). The percentages of partners who reported improved alertness, stamina, and initiative by their spouses were 70%, 64%, and 55%, respectively, in the DHEA group and 11%, 6%, and 11%, respectively, in the placebo group (P < 0.05). According to the partners, sexual relations tended to improve compared with placebo (P = 0.06). After 6 months of treatment, increased sexual interest or activity was reported by 50% of the women taking 30 mg DHEA, by none taking 20 mg DHEA, and by two women taking placebo (P = NS). Compared with levels after placebo administration, high density lipoprotein cholesterol and apolipoprotein A-1 levels decreased after DHEA. Serum concentrations of IGF-I, serum markers of bone metabolism, and bone density did not change. In conclusion, oral administration of a low dose of DHEA to adult hypopituitary women induced androgen effects on skin and axillary and pubic hair as well as changes in behavior, with only minor effects on metabolism.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 May;87(5):2046-52.

Effects of replacement dose of dehydroepiandrosterone in men and women of advancing age.

Aging in humans is accompanied by a progressive decline in the secretion of the adrenal androgens dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA sulfate (DS), paralleling that of the GH-insulin-like growth factor-I (GH-IGF-I) axis. Although the functional relationship of the decline of the GH-IGF-I system and catabolism is recognized, the biological role of DHEA in human aging remains undefined. To test the hypothesis that the decline in DHEA may contribute to the shift from anabolism to catabolism associated with aging, we studied the effect of a replacement dose of DHEA in 13 men and 17 women, 40-70 yr of age. A randomized placebo-controlled cross-over trial of nightly oral DHEA administration (50 mg) of 6-month duration was conducted. During each treatment period, concentrations of androgens, lipids, apolipoproteins, IGF-I, IGF-binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1), IGFBP-3, insulin sensitivity, percent body fat, libido, and sense of well-being were measured. A subgroup of men (n = 8) and women (n = 5) underwent 24-h sampling at 20-min intervals for GH determinations. DHEA and DS serum levels were restored to those found in young adults within 2 weeks of DHEA replacement and were sustained throughout the 3 months of the study. A 2-fold increase in serum levels of androgens (androstenedione, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone) was observed in women, with only a small rise in androstenedione in men. There was no change in circulating levels of sex hormone-binding globulin, estrone, or estradiol in either gender. High density lipoprotein levels declined slightly in women, with no other lipid changes noted for either gender. Insulin sensitivity and percent body fat were unaltered. Although mean 24-h GH and IGFBP-3 levels were unchanged, serum IGF-I levels increased significantly, and IGFBP-1 decreased significantly for both genders, suggesting an increased bioavailability of IGF-I to target tissues. This was associated with a remarkable increase in perceived physical and psychological well-being for both men (67%) and women (84%) and no change in libido. In conclusion, restoring DHEA and DS to young adult levels in men and women of advancing age induced an increase in the bioavailability of IGF-I, as reflected by an increase in IGF-I and a decrease in IGFBP-1 levels. These observations together with improvement of physical and psychological well-being in both genders and the absence of side-effects constitute the first demonstration of novel effects of DHEA replacement in age-advanced men and women.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1994 Jun;78(6):1360-7.

Androgen biosynthesis from cholesterol to DHEA.

Androgens and estrogens are made from dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which is made from cholesterol via four steps. First, cholesterol enters the mitochondria with the assistance of the steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR). Mutations in the StAR gene cause congenital lipoid adrenal hyperplasia. Second, within the mitochondria, cholesterol is converted to pregnenolone by the cholesterol side chain cleavage enzyme, P450scc. Third, pregnenolone undergoes 17alpha-hydroxylation by microsomal P450c17. Finally, 17-OH pregnenolone is converted to DHEA by the 17,20 lyase activity of P450c17. The ratio of the 17,20 lyase to 17alpha-hydroxylase activity of P450c17 determines the ratio of C21 to C19 steroids produced. This ratio is regulated post-translationally by at least three factors: the abundance of the electron-donating protein P450 oxidoreductase, the presence of cytochrome b(5), and the serine phosphorylation of P450c17. Study of these and related factors may yield important information about the pathophysiology of adrenarche and the polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2002 Dec 30;198(1-2):7-14.

Arthro Immune Support Current treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Over the past 10 years, the management of rheumatoid arthritis has been revolutionized. Early diagnosis is essential and should allow an early initiation of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARD), if possible within the first 3 three months after disease onset, aiming at disease remission and the best long-term prognosis. Recommendations for the prescription of synthetic and biologic DMARD (mainly anti-TNFalpha agents) are available since September 2007 [6] by HAS in France. The great efficacy of these drugs has been established from many clinical trials including tens of thousands of patients. However, severe adverse side effects may occur (allergy, tuberculosis, opportunistic infections, demyelination) and rheumatologists should remain vigilant. Global care of the patient includes prescription of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatments (education, physical treatment, ergotherapy, psychotherapy, surgery). A good coordination between all specialists is required. Screening and treatment of extra-articular manifestations, prevention of infections, osteoporosis and cardiovascular complications are essential to allow a better long-term prognosis, and reduce disability and mortality of rheumatoid arthritis.

Rev Med Interne. 2009 Dec;30(12):1067-79.

The costs of rheumatoid arthritis: an international long-term view.

OBJECTIVES: To review the literature on the measurable direct and indirect costs of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in industrialized countries from a societal perspective and to develop a template for international use. METHODS: A literature search using MEDLINE and other sources identified 153 relevant published articles, press releases, and so forth on the costs of RA and rheumatism from the major Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in English and other languages. Sixty-eight publications provide some economic data for analysis and are included in the bibliography. Twelve publications provide sufficiently detailed and robust information for inclusion in country overview tables. The concept of varied costs at different disease stages measured by years since diagnosis and Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) scores is used to guide rational decisions in the allocation of scarce health care resources. RESULTS: Direct costs increase overproportionately during the course of the disease. The most important driver of direct costs is hospitalization, especially in moderate and severe RA. Costs of medication represent a comparatively small proportion of direct costs. Indirect costs caused by work disability can be substantially higher than direct costs, particularly in working-age patients. The total costs of RA to society, and the different cost components such as direct and indirect costs, are broadly comparable in industrialized countries by their order of magnitude. Major confounding factors for international comparison are different study methodologies and patient samples. CONCLUSIONS: The cost template developed in this article can be used to estimate the likely costs of RA to society for industrialized countries. It probably will underestimate indirect costs because of their incomplete coverage in the studies examined. A long-term perspective is needed for chronic diseases such as RA to assess the future effects of early interventions. Treatment in the early stages of RA that effectively reduces long-term disability has the potential to save substantial costs to society.

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2000 Apr;29(5):305-20.

Reporting of patient-reported outcomes in recent trials in rheumatoid arthritis.

OBJECTIVES: Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) have been increasingly recognised as important in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The objective of this study was to assess the frequency of use of different PROs in recently published RA articles and to compare the tools used through a systemic literature review. METHODS: (1) DATA SOURCE: In PUBMED MEDLINE database, articles reporting any type of clinical study for adult patients with RA, published between February 2005 and February 2007, and reporting any type of PRO. Articles were excluded if they did not concern adult RA or if they did not report any PROs. (2) DATA EXTRACTION: demographic characteristics of patients, study design, treatment assessed and all PROs. (3) Data analysis: descriptive. RESULTS: Of 109 reports, 50 (45%) were randomised controlled trials and 59 were other types of studies. A total of 63 questionnaires or tools for PROs were used, corresponding to 14 domains of health. Frequently reported domains (and most frequent tools) were: function, 83% (most frequent tool, health assessment questionnaire, HAQ); patient global assessment, 61% (most frequent tool, visual analogue scale, VAS); pain, 56% (VAS); and morning stiffness 27%. Domains such as fatigue, coping or sleep disturbance were infrequently reported. CONCLUSIONS: PROs are reported with great heterogeneity in recently published trials in RA. Some domains that appear important from the patient’s perspective are infrequently reported. Further work is needed in this field.

Ann Rheum Dis. 2009 Feb;68(2):183-90.

“TRECID,” TNFalpha related chronic inflammatory diseases - a new multiple diseases bridging concept.

The pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF alpha (TNF) has a key position in the pathogenesis of various infectious and inflammatory diseases. Clarification of its pivotal role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis, uveitis, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease has resulted in the successful development of TNF- blocking therapies, which have disease-modifying properties that exceed the effects of conventional therapeutic options. For this reason data on the concurrence of several chronic inflammatory diseases have led to the hypothesis of common pathogenetic processes of cytokine dysregulation. The acronym TRECID describes this concept of “TNF RElated Chronic Inflammatory Diseases”. Physicians of different specialties have integrated new therapeutic options with TNF-blocking therapies into their strategies for the management of the affected patients. Thus the concept of TRECID can be regarded as a role model for a dynamic, interdisciplinary cooperation based on shared pathophysiological aspects.

Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2009 Oct;134(42):2132-6.

Switching between TNFalpha antagonists in rheumatoid arthritis: personal experience and review of the literature.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the clinical response after switching to another TNFalpha antagonist in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and provide a review of the literature on this topic. METHODS: In this ongoing, longitudinal, observational study we have prospectively collected data of patients starting biological treatments since 2000. The present analysis is restricted to RA patients who switched to another anti-TNFalpha due to lack of efficacy (LaE), loss of efficacy (LoE), or adverse events (AEs) by the end of December 2007. Disease activity score (ESR-based DAS28) was calculated and the clinical response (none, moderate, good) was evaluated according to the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) criteria. Clinical remission (DAS28 <2.6) and low disease activity (DAS28 </=3.2) were also evaluated. RESULTS: A total of 692 anti-TNFalpha-naïve patients has been registered, of whom 395 with a diagnosis of RA. Thirtyseven RA patients switched to another TNFalpha antagonist. Three months after switching, the proportion of patients with remission, low disease activity, good and moderate/good EULAR responses grew from 0%, 2.7%, 0%, and 5.4% (baseline before switching) to 16.2%, 35.1%, 27%, and 62.2% (p<0.05, p<0.001, p<0.001, p<0.000001, respectively). Of the patients who switched because of LaE, LoE, and AEs a moderate/good EULAR response was achieved in 38.4%, 66.6%, and 88.8% of patients, respectively. Mean treatment duration with the second anti-TNFalpha was significantly longer in patients switching for LoE and AEs than in those switching for LaE (p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study suggest that RA patients may be successfully treated with another TNFalpha antagonist, especially those withdrawing for LoE or AEs.

Reumatismo. 2009 Apr-Jun;61(2):107-17.

Biologic therapy for rheumatoid arthritis: clinical efficacy and predictors of response.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, disabling disease of the synovial joints, thought to be autoimmune in origin. The emergence of biologic therapies has proven to be highly successful in effectively treating RA in the majority of cases. However, the cost of these agents is high and some patients do not respond to these drugs, or they suffer from adverse events. This article will review the currently available data on efficacy and the clinical, genetic, and biomarkers of response to these biologic therapies in RA. The anti-tumour necrosis factor-alpha (anti-TNFalpha) agents, adalimumab, etanercept and infliximab, act to neutralize the pro-inflammatory cytokine. Response to these agents is higher in patients receiving concurrent disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, in those with lesser disability, and in non-smokers. Many genetic predictors of response have been investigated, such as the shared epitope, the TNF gene and its receptors, but none have been absolutely confirmed. Synovial expression of TNFalpha has been suggested as a biomarker of response, while anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody and rheumatoid factor (RF)-positivity predict poor response. Newer biologic agents include the interleukin (IL)-1 receptor antagonist anakinra, the B-cell depleting agent rituximab, the selective costimulation modulator abatacept, and the anti-IL-6 receptor monoclonal antibody tocilizumab. No genetic studies of response to these agents have been performed to date. However, it has been reported that low synovial infiltration of B cells and complete B-cell depletion after the first rituximab infusion are predictors of good response to this agent.

BioDrugs. 2009;23(2):111-24.

Treatment of very early rheumatoid arthritis with symptomatic therapy, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, or biologic agents: a cost-effectiveness analysis.

BACKGROUND: Long-term control or remission of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may be possible with very early treatment. However, no optimal first therapeutic strategy has been determined. OBJECTIVE: To assess the potential cost-effectiveness of major therapeutic strategies for very early RA. DESIGN: Decision analytic model with probabilistic sensitivity analyses. DATA SOURCES: Published data, the National Data Bank for Rheumatic Diseases, and actual 2007 hospital costs. TARGET POPULATION: U.S. adults with very early RA (symptom duration <or=3 months). TIME HORIZON: Lifetime. PERSPECTIVE: Health care provider and societal. INTERVENTION: 3 management strategies were compared: a symptomatic or “pyramid” strategy with initial nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, patient education, pain management, and low-dose glucocorticoids, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) at 1 year for nonresponders; early DMARD therapy with methotrexate; and early therapy with biologics and methotrexate. OUTCOME MEASURES: Cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained. RESULTS OF BASE-CASE ANALYSIS: By reducing the progression of joint erosions and subsequent functional disability, both early intervention strategies increase quality-adjusted life more than the pyramid strategy and save long-term costs. When the cost of very early intervention is factored in, the cost-effectiveness ratio of the early DMARD strategy is $4849 per QALY (95% CI, $0 to $16 354 per QALY) compared with the pyramid strategy, whereas the benefits gained through the early biologic strategy come at a substantial incremental cost. The early DMARD strategy maximizes the effectiveness of early DMARDs and reserves the use of biologics for patients with more treatment-resistant disease of longer duration, for which the incremental benefit of biologics is greater.Results of Sensitivity Analysis: The early biologic strategy becomes more cost-effective if drug prices are reduced, risk for death is permanently lowered through biologic therapy, patients experience drug-free remission, responders can be selected before therapy initiation, or effective alternative antirheumatic agents are available for patients for whom several biologics have failed. LIMITATIONS: Data on the long-term effect of very early therapeutic interventions on the natural progression in disability and joint erosions are limited. The study considered only tumor necrosis factor inhibitors and not the newer biologics. CONCLUSION: According to the most objective measures of RA progression, very early intervention with conventional DMARDs is cost-effective. The cost-effectiveness of very early intervention with biologics remains uncertain.

Ann Intern Med. 2009 Nov 3;151(9):612-21.

Inhibitory effects of ethyl acetate extract of Andrographis paniculata on NF-{kappa}B trans-activation activity and LPS-induced acute inflammation in mice.

This study was to investigate anti-inflammatory effect of Andrographis paniculata (Burm. f.) Nees (Acanthaceae) (AP). The effects of ethyl acetate (EtOAc) extract from AP on the level of inflammatory mediators were examined first using nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB) driven luciferase assay. The results showed that AP significantly inhibited NF-kappaB luciferase activity and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin 6 (IL-6), macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2) and nitric oxide (NO) secretions from lipopolysaccharide (LPS)/interferon-gamma stimulated Raw264.7 cells. To further evaluate the anti-inflammatory effects of AP in vivo, BALB/c mice were tube-fed with 0.78 (AP1), 1.56 (AP2), 3.12 (AP3) and 6.25 (AP4) mg kg(-1) body weight (BW)/day in soybean oil, while the control and PDTC (pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate, an anti-inflammatory agent) groups were tube-fed with soybean oil only. After 1 week of tube-feeding, the PDTC group was injected with 50 mg kg(-1) BW PDTC and 1 h later, all of the mice were injected with 15 mg kg(-1) BW LPS. The results showed that the AP1, AP2, AP3 and PDTC groups, but not AP4, had significantly higher survival rate than the control group. Thus, the control, AP1, AP2, AP3 and PDTC groups were repeated for in vivo parameters. The results showed that the AP and PDTC groups had significantly lower TNF-alpha, IL-12p40, MIP-2 or NO in serum or peritoneal macrophages and infiltration of inflammatory cells into the lung of mice. The AP1 group also had significantly lower MIP-2 mRNA expression in brain. This study suggests that AP can inhibit the production of inflammatory mediators and alleviate acute hazards at its optimal dosages.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009 Sep 10.

Transcription factor NF-kappaB: a sensor for smoke and stress signals.

Nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB) is a transcription factor that resides in the cytoplasm of every cell and translocates to the nucleus when activated. Its activation is induced by a wide variety of agents including stress, cigarette smoke, viruses, bacteria, inflammatory stimuli, cytokines, free radicals, carcinogens, tumor promoters, and endotoxins. On activation, NF-kappaB regulates the expression of almost 400 different genes, which include enzymes (e.g., COX-2, 5-LOX, and iNOS), cytokines (such as TNF, IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, and chemokines), adhesion molecules, cell cycle regulatory molecules, viral proteins, and angiogenic factors. The constitutive activation of NF-kappaB has been linked with a wide variety of human diseases, including asthma, atherosclerosis, AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Several agents are known to suppress NF-kappaB activation, including Th2 cytokines (IL-4, IL-13, and IL-10), interferons, endocrine hormones (LH, HCG, MSH, and GH), phytochemicals, corticosteroids, and immunosuppressive agents. Because of the strong link of NF-kappaB with different stress signals, it has been called a “smoke-sensor” of the body.

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Nov;1056:218-33.

Andrograpanin, isolated from Andrographis paniculata, exhibits anti-inflammatory property in lipopolysaccharide-induced macrophage cells through down-regulating the p38 MAPKs signaling pathways.

Andrographis paniculata Nees is an official herbal medicine for treatment of infection and inflammation in China. Andrograpanin, the one of diterpene lactones in A. paniculata, is a hydrolysate from neoandrographolide in vivo and in vitro. The goal of the present study was to investigate andrograpanin which effects on over production of nitric oxide (NO) and pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-alpha, IL-6 and IL-12p70) and the key signaling pathways involved in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated macrophage cells. The results showed that NO and all three pro-inflammatory cytokines were inhibited by andrograpanin (15-90 microM) in a dose-dependent manner. The RT-PCR and western blotting assays showed that andrograpanin inhibited productions of NO and pro-inflammatory cytokines through down-regulating iNOS and pro-inflammatory cytokines gene expression levels. Further studies suggested that down-regulation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPKs) signaling pathways were involved in the anti-inflammatory activities of andrograpanin. This study provided evidences that andrograpanin might be useful as a potential anti-inflammatory leading compound for inflammatory drug development.

Int Immunopharmacol. 2008 Jul;8(7):951-8

In vivo and in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of neoandrographolide.

Neoandrographolide, one of the principal diterpene lactones, isolated from a medicinal herb Andrographis paniculata Nees, was tested in vivo and in vitro for its anti-inflammatory activities and mechanism. Oral administration of neoandrographolide (150 mg/kg) significantly suppressed ear edema induced by dimethyl benzene in mice. Oral administration of neoandrographolide (100-150 mg/kg) also reduced the increase in vascular permeability induced by acetic acid in mice. In vitro studies were performed using the macrophage cell line RAW264.7 to study the effect of neoandrographolide on suppressing phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (PMA)-stimulated respiratory bursts and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced production of nitric oxide (NO) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). Respiratory bursts were quantified by chemiluminescence (CL) measurements. Results showed that neoandrographolide suppressed PMA-stimulated respiratory bursts dose-dependently from 30 muM to 150 muM. Neoandrographolide also inhibited NO and TNF-alpha production in LPS-induced macrophages, contributing to the anti-inflammatory activity of A. paniculata. These results indicate that neoandrographolide possesses significant anti-inflammatory effects, which implies that it would be one of the major contributing components to participate in the anti-inflammatory effect of A. paniculata. and a potential candidate for further clinical trial.

Am J Chin Med. 2007;35(2):317-28.

Inhibitory effects of neoandrographolide on nitric oxide and prostaglandin E2 production in LPS-stimulated murine macrophage.

Activated macrophages express inducible isoforms of nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), produce excessive amounts of nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)), which play key roles in the processes of inflammation. Andrographis paniculata Nees is a traditional Chinese herb commonly used for treatment of infection, inflammation, and diarrhea. However, the mechanism of its therapeutic function is not well known. In the present study, the effect of neoandrographolide, one of bioactive components in A. paniculata, on iNOS-mediated NO production and COX-2-mediated PGE(2) in bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated-murine macrophages was investigated. Neoandrographolide at concentrations (30-90 microM) significantly (p<0.05) inhibited the productions of NO and PGE(2) in LPS stimulated macrophages without inducing cytotoxicity. The effect of neoandrographolide also has been investigated on iNOS and COX-2 expression in activated macrophage by using RT-PCR and immunoblotting. The inhibition of NO release by neoandrographolide can be attributed to the block of iNOS mRNA transcription followed by inhibiting protein expression. However, neoandrographolide inhibited COX-2 protein expression only but without inhibiting COX-2 mRNA expression, which was involved in the inhibitory activity against the PGE(2) overproduction. This suggests that the effect of neoandrographolide on iNOS expression may occur at the transcriptional level and the inhibition of COX-2 expression occurs at the translational level. Furthermore, we have found that the addition of neoandrographolide inhibited the activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPKs) instead of JNK, ERK1/2, or NF-kappaB. These results indicated that the anti-inflammatory properties of neoandrographolide might result from the inhibition of iNOS and COX-2 expression through inhibiting p38 MAPKs activation. Therefore, neoandrographolide isolated from A. paniculata could be offered as a leading compound for anti-inflammation.

Mol Cell Biochem. 2007 Apr;298(1-2):49-57.