Open Access Open Badges Research article

Lack of replication of genetic predictors for the rheumatoid arthritis response to anti-TNF treatments: a prospective case-only study

Marian Suarez-Gestal1, Eva Perez-Pampin1, Manuel Calaza1, Juan J Gomez-Reino12 and Antonio Gonzalez1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratorio Investigacion 10 and Rheumatology Unit, Instituto de Investigacion Sanitaria-Hospital Clinico Universitario de Santiago, Travesia Choupana sn., Santiago de Compostela, 15706, Spain

2 Department of Medicine, University of Santiago de Compostela, San Francisco sn., Santiago de Compostela, 15782, Spain

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2010, 12:R72  doi:10.1186/ar2990

Published: 27 April 2010



We aimed to replicate the strong associations that a recent genome wide association study (GWAS) has found between 16 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and response to anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF) treatment in 89 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This study is very important because, according to published simulations, associations as strong as the reported ones will mean that these SNPs could be used as predictors of response at the individual level.


Disease activity score (DAS28) was evaluated in 151 anti-TNF treated patients with RA of Spanish ancestry at baseline and every 3 months thereafter. Genotypes of the 16 putative predictor SNPs were obtained by single-base extension. Association between the relative change in DAS28 and SNP genotypes was tested by linear regression. In addition, logistic regression was applied to compare genotypes in non-responders (n = 34) versus good-responders (n = 61) following the EULAR response criteria.


None of the analyses showed any significant association between the 16 SNPs and response to anti-TNF treatments at 3 or 6 months. Results were also negative when only patients treated with infliximab (66.9% of the total) were separately analyzed. These negative results were obtained in spite of a very good statistical power to replicate the reported strong associations.


We still do not have any sound evidence of genetic variants associated with RA response to anti-TNF treatments. In addition, the possibility we had envisaged of using the results of a recent GWAS for prediction in individual patients should be dismissed.