OBJECTIVE: To compare the long-term disease state, in terms of activity and damage, of children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) who had their disease onset in methotrexate (MTX) or biologic eras.
METHODS: Patients were included in MTX or biologic era cohort depending on whether their disease presentation occurred before or after January 2000. All patients had disease duration ≥ 5 years and underwent a prospective cross-sectional assessment, which included measurement of disease activity and damage. Inactive disease (ID) and low disease activity (LDA) states were defined according to Wallace, JADAS10, and cJADAS10 criteria. Articular and extraarticular damage was assessed with the Juvenile Arthritis Damage Index (JADI).
RESULTS: MTX and biologic era cohorts included 239 and 269 patients, respectively. Patients were divided in the "functional phenotypes" of oligoarthritis and polyarthritis. At cross-sectional visit, patients in the biologic era cohort with either oligoarthritis or polyarthritis had consistently higher frequencies of ID and LDA by all criteria. The measurement of disease damage at cross-sectional visit revealed that the frequency of impairment of > 1 JADI-Articular items was higher in MTX than in biologic era cohort (17.6% versus 11% in oligoarthritis and 52.6% versus 21.8% in polyarthritis). Likewise, frequency of involvement of > 1 JADI-Extraarticular items was higher in the MTX than in the biologic era cohort (26.5% versus 16.2% in oligoarthritis and 31.4% versus 13.5% in polyarthritis).
CONCLUSION: Our study provides evidence of the remarkable outcome improvement obtained with the recent therapeutic advance in JIA.