Arthritis Research Canada at

CRA & AHPA Annual Scientific Meeting 2024

February 29

To learn more about Arthritis Research Canada research presented at the CRA & AHPA Annual Scientific Meeting on February 29, please scroll down. We have research on rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, lupus, and much more.

Specific Symptom Clusters at Diagnosis Signal a Poorer Early RA Prognosis on Methotrexate Treatment: Results from The Canadian Early Arthritis Cohort (CATCH).

This study explored how clusters of symptoms at the onset of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) predicted response to methotrexate, a cornerstone of RA treatment, over the first six months of treatment, using data from the Canadian Early Arthritis Cohort (CATCH). The study found that people with emotional symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, at the time of RA diagnosis were less likely to have improvement in their RA with treatment, highlighting the need for addressing mental health for people newly diagnosed with RA.

Research Team: Bartlett S, Bingham C, Schieir O, Valois MF, Pope J, Bessette L, Boire G, Hitchon C, Keystone E, Thorne C, Tin D, Hazlewood G, Bykerk V, Canadian Early Arthritis Cohort (CATCH) Investigators.



Incidence of Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases Following Exposure to Dipeptidyl Peptidase-4 Inhibitors, Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists, or Sodium-Glucose Cotransporter-2 Inhibitors: a Population-Based Study.

This study investigated whether certain new classes of diabetes medications (called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists and sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors) which have gained popularity in recent years because of their positive effects on heart health, affect the risk of developing autoimmune rheumatic diseases in people with type 2 diabetes. This study showed that they do not appear to increase the risk of developing autoimmune rheumatic diseases.

Research Team: Karacabeyli D, Lacaille D, Lu N, Avina-Zubieta JA.



The Prevalence of Frailty Among Individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis: a Population-Based Cohort Study. 

Using administrative health data for the population of British Columbia, this study found that people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were more than twice as likely to be frail when compared to similarly aged individuals without inflammatory arthritis. This relationship persisted even after accounting for other important factors, including differences in socioeconomic status, urban versus rural residence, and rates of comorbid medical conditions.

Research Team: Legge A, Lacaille D.



Real World Patterns of Advanced Therapy Tapering in Early Rheumatoid Arthritis: Data from The Canadian Early Arthritis Cohort.

This real-world study of early RA patients from the CATCH cohort, looked at how often biologic medications are reduced once the goal of remission (i.e. when all the inflammation is essentially gone) is achieved. They found that tapering was tried in 1 in 4 patients who would be considered in remission and therefore eligible to reduce their medications based on current recommendations, and on average it took about 14 months for this to be tried. Tapering was tried less often with Anti TNF therapies, and also less often in people experiencing more fatigue.

Research Team: Powell M, Bykerk V, Schieir S, Valois MF, Bartlett S, Bessette L, Boire G, Hitchon C, Keystone E, Pope J, Thorne C, Tin D, Hazlewood G, CATCH Canadian Early Arthritis Cohort Investigators.



Mortality After Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant for Autoimmune Disease: Do Scleroderma Patients Fare Worse?

This study looked at young adults undergoing Stem cell transplant for auto-immune diseases and found an excellent 5-year survival at 89%. People with scleroderma tended to fare worse, but this may be due to differences in age, time trends or other factors. Half of deaths in scleroderma patients after transplant were due to disease relapse.

Research Team: Birck MG, Neville A, Storek J, Atkins H, Hudson M, Colmegna I, Cotton T, Lavoie JR, Gao J, Bernatsky S.



RA Symptom Clusters at Diagnosis Predict Disease Activity in The First 6 Months of Early Ra: Results from The Canadian Early Arthritis Cohort (CATCH).

This study used scores related to physical symptoms (like pain and fatigue) and emotional symptoms (such as anxiety and depression) to classify patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) into four groups. Data from adults enrolled in the Canadian Early Arthritis Cohort (CATCH) study were used. The authors explored how the four different groups of RA patients responded to treatment with MTX therapy over six months. Disease activity improved over six months in all four groups; however, not to the same degree – patients with higher emotional symptoms and intense physical symptoms had worse disease activity, indicating a less favourable prognosis.

Research Team:  Bartlett S, Schieir O, Valois MF, Boire G, Bessette L, Pope J, Tin D, Thorne C, Hazlewood G, Hitchon C, Keystone E, Bykerk V.



Comparison of Malignancies and Serious Infections Between Etanercept Biosimilar and Bio-Originator Initiators: Population-Based Analyses.

This study compared the safety of two forms of a biologic drug, the original etanercept and biosimilar forms of etanercept for the treatment of various conditions including rheumatoid arthritis. Analyzing pan-Canadian prescription and hospital data from the National Prescription Drug Utilization Information System from 2015 to 2019, the study found that biosimilar forms of etanercept had similar safety to originators, with no significant differences in the risk of cancer and infections.

Research Team: Birck MG, Lukusa L, Abrahamowicz M, Choquette D, Boire G, Maksymowych, W, Bernatsky S.



Elevated serum CA19-9 in IgG4-related disease manifesting in the pancreas, liver and biliary tree not due to immunoassay interference.

This study investigated why some patients with Immunoglobulin G4-related disease (IgG4 disease), show elevated levels of CA19-9, a tumor marker. The study found that patients with IgG4 disease can have high CA19-9 in the absence of cancer, especially in people with IgG4 disease in the liver, biliary tree or pancreas, and this is likely due to the disease itself and not a testing error, highlighting the need for careful diagnosis in these patients.

Research Team: Chong DHY, Mattman A, Dou A, So A, Shi J, Cleve R, Lim HJ, Schaeffer DF, Telford JL, Chen LYC, Carruthers MN.



Improving Outcomes of Patients Living with Psoriatic Arthritis: The Observational Best Practices Research Initiative (Obri-Psa).

This study aims to understand the real-world impact of Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) on patients’ lives and inform treatment choices. The study is tracking patients’ disease activity, medication use, and response to treatment over time. Early findings show that while most patients experienced a reduction in joint pain and swelling with treatment, less than half achieved remission or low disease activity. Notably, 40% continued their treatment despite limited improvement, for reasons such as awaiting the full effect of medication or based on personal or rheumatologist preference.

Research Team: Chow A, Lau AN, Soucy E, Movahedi M, Li X, Mously C, Cesta A, Thorne C, Ahluwalia V, Chandran V, Boyle J, Dhillon R, Chan J, Joshi R, Bombardier C, Aydin S. 



Lyme Disease: an Emerging Mimic of Giant Cell Arteritis.

This study reviewed the cases of five patients in Halifax, Nova Scotia who were initially suspected to have Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA) but were later diagnosed with Lyme disease. These patients, mostly male and aged 48 to 64, experienced severe headaches and high inflammation levels, but only one showed typical Lyme disease symptoms like rash and neck stiffness. Despite initial improvement with prednisone treatment for GCA, blood tests confirmed Lyme disease in all cases. This study underscores the need for doctors to consider Lyme disease in older adults presenting with headache and high inflammation markers, especially in areas where Lyme disease is common.

Research Team: Crawford M, Bakowsky V, Roberts J, Legge A.



Investigating The Prevalence and Health Profiles Among Patients Using Cannabis Therapeutically for Management of Rheumatologic Diseases.

This study examined the health profiles and cannabis use patterns among 193 rheumatology patients in Alberta aged 18- to 45. They found that almost half (48.7%) were currently using cannabis, over a third (38.6%) had used cannabis in the past, and a fifth (20.7%) had never used cannabis. Current and past cannabis users reported higher pain scores and lower well-being compared to never users. Among cannabis users, current users had higher pain scores than past users, and they reported using cannabis for pain control and stress management.

Research Team: Gulati S, Lowe S, Jones A, Turk T, Yamamoto S, Gregg K, Kolewaski L, Olson J, Paul P, Sadowski C, Yacyshyn E.



Exploring The Personal Health Factors Associated with Cannabis Use for Rheumatic Disease Management Among Young and Middle-Aged Adults in Alberta, Canada.

This study examined factors associated with cannabis use among patients with rheumatic diseases in Alberta using a survey. Factors associated with cannabis use included being younger, male, experiencing mental illness and sleep disturbances, having high levels of pain, lacking health insurance, being a previous or current smoker, and consuming four or more alcoholic drinks per week.

Research Team: Gulati S, Lowe S, Jones A, Turk T, Yamamoto S, Gregg K, Kolewaski L, Olson J, Paul P, Sadowski C, Yacyshyn E.



Evaluating the Distribution of Vasculitis among Rural Farmers, Rural Non-Farmers and Urban Residents in Alberta.

This study explored the epidemiology of vasculitis in farmers compared to other populations in Alberta, focusing on the impact of environmental factors and geographic location. This study found that the farmer population in Alberta experienced a higher burden of vasculitis, as indicated by higher diagnosis rates and more hospital admissions compared to other populations.

Research Team: Gulati S, Hung W, Voaklander D, Jones A, Yacyshyn E.



Association of Serum Analytes with SLE Cognitive Impairment Phenotypes Formed by Machine Learning: Mmp-9,s100A8/a9, Il-6, Il-10, and Ngal.

This study focused on patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and cognitive impairment (CI). Using machine learning and a series of tests, the researchers identified two subtypes of SLE-related cognitive issues – Subtype A as having more severe cognitive problems, greater disease burden, and worse overall health quality than Subtype B. They also identified blood markers (S100A8/A9, MMP-9, NGAL/lipocalin, and IL-6) that were higher in people with this type of cognitive impairment.

Research Team: Munoz-Grajales C, Barraclough M, Erdman L, Martinez JD, Bingham K, Kakvan MM, Pozzi Kretzmann R, Tartaglia C, Ruttan L, Choi M,Appenzeller S, Marzouk S, Bonilla D, Katz P, Beaton D, Goldenberg A, Green R, Gladman D, Wither J, Touma Z.



Health Literacy in Arthritis Care in Canada: The Perspective of BIPOC Individuals Across Age Categories.

Health literacy can be defined as an individual’s ability to find, understand, and use information and services to support their health. Arthritis Consumer Experts conducted a 40-question online Survey (June 1- 25, 2023) in English and French. Although BIPOC and white respondents reported similar levels of health literacy, further analysis revealed that BIPOC aged ≥54 years experienced unique challenges to practicing self-care and navigating health care services. More work is needed to better understand and support intersectional groups to develop health literacy skills to overcome real world barriers.

Research Team:Wang E, Chan A, Lendevoy K, Canesco M, Sayre EC, Koehn C, Fox TL.



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