Hit hard and early: analysing the effects of high-dose methylprednisolone on nailfold capillary changes and biomarkers in very early systemic sclerosis: study protocol for a 12-week randomised controlled trial
SourceTrials, 19, (2018), article 449
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectAll institutes and research themes of the Radboud University Medical Center; Radboudumc 5: Inflammatory diseases RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 5: Inflammatory diseases RIMLS: Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences
BACKGROUND: Mounting evidence indicates that inflammatory mechanisms drive systemic sclerosis (SSc) vasculopathy and fibrosis, especially early in the disease. Therefore, patients with very early SSc could benefit from early treatments targeting inflammation. Glucocorticoids are among the most potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive agents. Several studies have demonstrated a mixed response to treatment with glucocorticoids in SSc, probably because it is seldom initiated at very early stages of the disease. We hypothesise that by inhibiting the inflammatory process driving SSc disease progression, glucocorticoid treatments will induce remission in patients with very early SSc. METHODS/DESIGN: This study is a 12-week, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial analysing the effects of high-dose intravenous methylprednisolone in very early SSc. Thirty patients who fulfil the criteria for very early SSc will be randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive either intravenous methylprednisolone or a placebo on three consecutive days over three consecutive months. In this study, the primary endpoint will be the change in capillary density between the baseline and after 12 weeks of treatment. The secondary outcomes of this study are a change in selected biomarkers, other changes in the nailfold capillaries, signs of established SSc and changes in physical function, general health and utilities, as reported through questionnaires. DISCUSSION: This trial is the first aiming to treat very early SSc and is promising because it targets the very early stages of the disease process by using an inexpensive and relatively safe treatment known to be highly effective against inflammation. The use of vasculopathy and inflammatory biomarkers as well as clinical signs and symptoms as the endpoints in our study enables us to meet the patient need for markers of disease activity. If it is possible to prevent clinically significant disease in patients with very early SSc by using a safe treatment, this will cause a paradigm shift in scleroderma care and research. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03059979 . Registered on 20 February 2017.
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