Undifferentiated spondyloarthritis vs ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis: a real-life prospective cohort study of clinical presentation and response to treatment.Rheumatology (Oxford) 2013; 52(10):1873-8R
SpA is a phenotypically heterogeneous disease, with AS and PsA as its best studied subtypes. This study aimed to investigate whether, despite a different phenotypic presentation, patients with undifferentiated SpA (uSpA) have similar disease activity and response to treatment to those with AS and PsA.
175 patients presenting at a dedicated SpA outpatient clinic were recruited in a real-life prospective cohort with follow-up every 3 months. Clinical characteristics, disease activity at presentation and response to treatment of uSpA were compared with AS and PsA.
Twenty-three per cent (n = 40) of the patients were classified as uSpA. These patients were younger and tended to have a shorter disease duration than AS and PsA patients. uSpA patients exhibited a mixed axial (inflammatory back pain in 87.5%) and peripheral (peripheral arthritis in 62.5%) phenotype, with almost half of the patients having low-grade sacroiliitis on conventional X-ray. The overall disease activity in uSpA was similar to AS and higher than in PsA, also when analysing only anti-TNF naive patients. Initiation of TNF blockade significantly decreased disease activity in uSpA, with a similar amplitude to that in AS and PsA.
uSpA is a frequent, severe and anti-TNF-responsive phenotypic subtype of SpA. In agreement with the new ASAS classification criteria for axial and peripheral SpA and emerging data on TNF blockade in non-radiographic axial SpA and peripheral uSpA, these data emphasize the need for early diagnosis and optimal treatment of not only AS and PsA but also other SpA subforms.