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Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases ; 80(SUPPL 1):894, 2021.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1358792


Background: Serology could help defining the real extent of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome CoronaVirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) diffusion in the population, especially in individuals considered at higher risk of SARS-CoV2 infection (COVID-19), such as Spondiloarthritis (SpA) patients undergoing immunosuppressive therapy or health care workers (HCW). In fact, COVID-19 detection is complicated by the fact that many patients can be asymptomatic. In these cases, it has also been suggested that a weaker immune response might be elicited. In this context, the role of anti-cytokine targeted therapy -commonly used as treatment in SpA-is uncertain, as it is not clear whether it is detrimental or protective towards severe disease forms. Objectives: The aim of the study was to explore the potential role of serology in detecting previous contact with SARS-CoV2 in SpA patients and HCW, and compare the frequency of positive findings with a control population. Methods: Consecutive patients affected by axial or peripheral SpA, classified according to Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society (ASAS) criteria and undergoing cytokine-targeted therapy, as well as HCW and controls from the pre-COVID-19 era (control group, 2015) were recruited. In SpA patients, disease activity was assessed by Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Score (ASDAS) and Disease Activity Score on 28-joint-count (DAS28). Sera from all patients were analysed through chemiluminescent analytical system (CLIA) for the presence of IgG and IgM anti-SARS-CoV2. Patients with a positive serological test (either IgM or IgG) additionally underwent real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) in nasopharyngeal swabs in order to test for active infection. In SpA patients, serology was repeated after 3 months. Data across the 3 groups were compared by ANOVA or Chi-square, while comparison between 2 groups were conducted by Wilcoxon signed rank test or Chi-Square, for continuous and categorical data respectively. P ≤ 0.05 were considered as significant. Results: A total of 396 patients were recruited: 200 SpA, 95 HCW and 101 healthy controls. SpA patients were mostly (54%) males, with mean age 49.6 ±14.7 years, and all were treated with anti-TNFα (78%), anti-IL-17 (9%) and anti-IL-23 drugs (7%), or small molecules (6%). Their disease activity level was moderate-low as assessed by ASDAS (1.95 ±0.98) and DAS28 (2.33 ±2.02). Among HCW and controls, 35% and 62% were male, with mean age 46.7 ±12.9 and 50.6±10.6 respectively. Positive serology (IgM or IgG, or both) was found in 12.5% SpA patients, 8.4% HCW, 0% controls (p=0.001). Among these, IgM titres were higher in the SpA group than in HCW (2.76±2.94 versus 0.80±0.67 KU/L, p= 0.016), while IgG mean titres were lower in the SpA group than in HCW (0.88±3.18 KU/L versus 1.05±0.88, p= 0.035). SpA patients with positive serology more frequently reported COVID-19 like symptoms than those with negative serology (20% vs 4%, p=0.009) and 2 had COVID-19 as confirmed by RT-PCR, none with a severe disease course. None of the HCW reported symptoms or tested positive by RT-PCR. In the SpA patients, at 3 months, the mean IgM titre decreased from 2.76±2.93 to 2.38±2.95 (p=0.001), while the IgG titres decreased from 0.89±3.25 to 0.31±0.87 (p=ns). Interestingly, the IgM or IgG titer at a single-patient level did not seem to change much in terms of absolute value (Figure 1), except in one patient, with documented COVID-19 (positive RT-PCR), in whom IgG level even decreased at 3 months. Conclusion: Serology revealed that exposure to COVID-19 in SpA patients, as well as HCW, was higher than expected based on reported symptoms. Targeted anti-cytokine therapy could act as a protective factor for a severe disease course in SpA patients. However, in this population, IgG and IgM titres did not change in a clinically significant manner at 3 months, and patient did not seem to develop an immune profile consistent with durable response. This result could be due to a weaker immune response in mild infections, but further studies are w rranted to clarify the pathophysiology beyond these observations.

J Autoimmun ; 112: 102502, 2020 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-595406


BACKGROUND: Whether patients with autoimmune rheumatic diseases (ARD) have a higher risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19) and how SARS-CoV-2 pandemic impacts on adherence to therapy has not been fully elucidated. We assessed the rate and clinical presentation of COVID-19, and adherence to therapy in a large cohort of patients with ARD followed-up in a tertiary University-Hospital in Northeast Italy. METHODS: Between April 9th and April 25th, 2020, after SARS-CoV-2 infection peak, a telephone survey investigating the impact of COVID-19 on patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), systemic sclerosis (SSc), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV), and idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIM) was administered. Demographics, disease activity status, therapy, occupational exposure, and adherence to social distancing advise were also collected. RESULTS: 916 patients (397 SLE, 182 AAV, 176 SSc, 111 RA, 50 IIM) completed the survey. 148 patients developed at least one symptom compatible with COVID-19 (cough 96, sore throat 64, fever 64, arthromyalgias 59, diarrhea 26, conjunctivitis 18, ageusia/hyposmia, 18). Among the 916 patients, 65 (7.1%) underwent SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal swab (18 symptomatic and 47 asymptomatic), 2 (0.21%) tested positive, a proportion similar to that observed in the general population of the Veneto region. No deaths occurred. 31 patients (3.4%) withdrew ≥1 medication, mainly immunosuppressants or biologics. Adoption of social distancing was observed by 860 patients (93.9%), including 335 (36.6%) who adopted it before official lockdown. CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19 incidence seems to be similar in our cohort compared to the general population. Adherence to therapy and to social distancing advise was high.

Autoimmune Diseases/drug therapy , Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Immunosuppressive Agents/administration & dosage , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Rheumatic Diseases/drug therapy , Adult , Aged , Autoimmune Diseases/diagnosis , Autoimmune Diseases/virology , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Coronavirus Infections/pathology , Female , Humans , Italy , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , Pneumonia, Viral/pathology , Rheumatic Diseases/diagnosis , Rheumatic Diseases/virology , SARS-CoV-2