Remission achieved after 2 years treatment with low-dose prednisolone in addition to disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs in early rheumatoid arthritis is associated with reduced joint destruction still present after 4 years: an open 2-year continuation study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To evaluate if remission induced by low-dose prednisolone during the first 2 years of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the BARFOT glucocorticoid (GC) study had a sustained effect on radiological damage for a total of 4 years. Methods: A total of 150 of 211 eligible patients with RA who had been randomised to the 7.5 mg prednisolone group ( P) or no prednisolone group (NoP) in addition to the initial disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs were included. Radiographs of hands and feet were scored using the Sharp-van der Heijde scoring method. A patient was considered to be in remission if the 28-joint count disease activity score was <2.6. Results: Mean (SD) age was 53 (14) and 57 ( 12) years for the patients in the P and NoP groups, respectively. 64% were female, 64% rheumatoid factor positive, and disease duration at baseline was 6 months. At 2 years the proportion of patients in remission in the P and NoP groups was 55 vs 30%, p = 0.003. Longitudinal analysis showed that over the entire course of the disease, patients on prednisolone had a higher probability of being in remission. Patients in remission at 2 years, compared with those not in remission, had significantly lower total Sharp score, erosion score and joint space narrowing score at 2 and 4 years. The changes in bone mineral density during the 4 years did not differ between those in remission and those with active disease, and were similar in the two treatment groups. Conclusions: Prednisolone 7.5 mg daily in addition to disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs increases the rate of remission in patients with early RA, which has a beneficial and sustained effect on radiological damage.


  • I. Hafstroem
  • K. Albertsson
  • A. Boonen
  • D. van der Heijde
  • R. Landewe
  • Björn Svensson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Rheumatology and Autoimmunity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-513
JournalAnnals of the Rheumatic Diseases
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch