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This article is part of the supplement: 24th European Workshop for Rheumatology Research

Open Badges Meeting abstract

Abatacept (CTLA4Ig) treatment increases the remission rate in rheumatoid arthritis patients refractory to methotrexate treatment

R Westhovens1, P van Riel2, J Sibilia3, G Vratsanos4, I Nuamah4 and JC Becker4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Rheumatology, Universitaire Ziekenhuizen Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

2 Department of Rheumatology, University Medical Center Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

3 Department of Rheumatology, Strasbourg University Hospital, Strasbourg, France

4 Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute, Princeton, NJ, USA

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Arthritis Res Ther 2004, 6(Suppl 1):86  doi:10.1186/ar1128

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Received:16 January 2004
Published:24 February 2004



Effective amelioration of symptoms and induction of remission are goals in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


Data from a Phase II study for RA treatment with abatacept, a selective co-stimulation modulator, showing induction of remission (DAS-28 score < 2.6) are presented.


Patients on background methotrexate (MTX) who met ACR criteria for active RA with ≥ 10 swollen joints (66 joint count) and ≥ 12 tender joints (68 joint count) were randomly assigned to receive 10 mg/kg abatacept (n = 115) or placebo (n = 119) treatment for 1 year. DAS-28 scores and serum cytokine levels were assessed at days 1, 90, 180 and 360.


Abatacept-treated patients showed a progressive increase in remission rates up to 1 year (analysis not prespecified) compared with placebo (P < 0.001; Fig. 1). Abatacept treatment also decreased serum levels of proinflammatory cytokines. In particular, levels of serum IL-6, a multifunctional cytokine that contributes both to acute phase response and to pathological B cell activation, were reduced by 67% at 180 days and by 73% at 360 days (P < 0.05). Placebo-treated patients showed no reduction. Abatacept was generally safe and well tolerated.

thumbnailFigure 1. Abatacept increases the remission rate in RA patients refractory to MTX treatment. Means and 95% confidence intervals are shown.


In patients with active RA who were receiving MTX, abatacept treatment significantly improved RA symptoms and produced a progressive increase in remission rates for over one-third of the treatment group, which was sustained at 1 year. In addition, abatacept decreased serum IL-6 levels. The results of this phase II study suggest that abatacept may have potential as therapy for patients with active RA despite MTX treatment.


Study supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb.