Publications by authors named "Aastha Khullar"

4 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Comparison of two dose escalation strategies of methotrexate in active rheumatoid arthritis: a multicentre, parallel group, randomised controlled trial.

Ann Rheum Dis 2021 Jun 10. Epub 2021 Jun 10.

Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.

Objectives: There are no head-to-head trials of different dose escalation strategies of methotrexate (MTX) in RA. We compared the efficacy, safety and tolerability of 'usual' (5 mg every 4 weeks) versus 'fast' (5 mg every 2 weeks) escalation of oral MTX.

Methods: This multicentre, open-label (assessor blinded) RCT included patients 18-55 years of age having active RA with disease duration <5 years, and not on DMARDs. Patients were randomized 1:1 into usual or fast escalation groups, both groups starting MTX at 15 mg/week till a maximum of 25 mg/week. Primary outcome was EULAR good response at 16 weeks, secondary outcomes were ΔDAS28 and adverse effects (AE). Analyses were intention-to-treat.

Results: 178 patients with mean DAS28-CRP of 5.4(1.1) were randomized to usual (n=89) or fast escalation groups (n=89). At 16 weeks, there was no difference in good EULAR response in the usual (28.1%) or fast escalation (22.5%) groups (p=0.8). There was no difference in mean ΔDAS28-CRP at 8 weeks (-0.9, -0.8, p=0.72) or 16 weeks (-1.3, -1.3, p=0.98). Even at 24 weeks (extended follow-up), responses were similar. There were no inter-group differences in ΔHAQ, or MTX-polyglutamates 1-3 levels at 8 or 16 weeks. Gastrointestinal AE were higher in the fast escalation group over initial 8 weeks (27%, 40%, p=0.048), but not over 16 weeks. There was no difference in cytopenias, transaminitis, or drug discontinuation/dose reduction between the groups. No serious AE were seen.

Conclusion: A faster MTX escalation strategy in RA was not more efficacious over 16-24 weeks, and did not significantly increase AE, except higher gastrointestinal AE initially.

Trial Registration Number: CTRI/2018/12/016549.
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June 2021

Efficacy of a step-down regimen of oral prednisolone in axial spondyloarthritis: result of a double-blind randomized controlled trial (COBRA-AS Study).

Rheumatology (Oxford) 2021 04;60(4):1932-1941

Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Department of Internal Medicine, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.

Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of a step-down regimen of oral prednisolone over 24 weeks in patients of axial SpA (axSpA).

Methods: This proof-of-concept double-blind randomized controlled trial enrolled patients with active axSpA (BASDAI ≥4) having predominantly axial disease (≤1 active joint currently) and inadequate response to NSAIDs. They were randomized to receive either oral prednisolone (n = 32) or placebo (n = 33) at a dose of 60, 40, 30, 20, 15 and 10 mg daily for 1 week each, following which they received 5 mg prednisolone (or placebo) daily for 18 weeks. The primary endpoint was a 50% improvement in the BASDAI (BASDAI50) at week 24. Analysis was intention to treat.

Results: A BASDAI50 was achieved by 12 of 32 patients (37.5%) in the prednisolone arm and 3 of 33 patients (9.1%) in the placebo arm at 24 weeks [difference 28.4% (95% CI 7.9, 46.7)]. However, there was no difference in achieving a 20 or 40% improvement in the Assessment of SpondyloArthritis international Society response between the groups. Although there was a significant intergroup difference in adjusted ΔBASDAI and ΔAnkylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Score with CRP at 24 weeks, there was no difference at 12 weeks. There was also no significant difference in ΔBASFI, ΔBAS-G or ΔBASMI at 12 or 24 weeks. No serious adverse events were noted. There was significant weight gain in the first 12 weeks in the prednisolone group vs placebo [0.9 (s.d. 0.4) kg], but not at 24 weeks.

Conclusions: In this small study, oral prednisolone was efficacious in axSpA in achieving the primary outcome, but many crucial secondary outcomes such as functional improvement were not met. Its impact on bone loss was not studied.Trial registration: CTRI/2018/01/011342.
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April 2021

Rhizobium indicum sp. nov., isolated from root nodules of pea (Pisum sativum) cultivated in the Indian trans-Himalayas.

Syst Appl Microbiol 2020 Sep 30;43(5):126127. Epub 2020 Jul 30.

National Centre for Microbial Resource, National Centre for Cell Science, Pune, Maharashtra 411007, India.

Three strains of rhizobia isolated from effective root nodules of pea (Pisum sativum L.) collected from the Indian trans-Himalayas were characterized using 16S rRNA, atpD and recA genes. Phylogeny of the 16S rRNA genes revealed that the newly isolated strains were members of the genus Rhizobium with ≥99.9% sequence similarity to the members within the "Rhizobium leguminosarum" group. Phylogenetic analyses based on the concatenated sequences of atpD and recA gene, and 92 core genes extracted from the genome sequences indicated that strains JKLM 12A2 and JKLM 13E are grouped as a separate clade closely related to R. laguerreae FB206. In contrast, the strain JKLM 19E was placed with "R. hidalgonense" FH14. Whole-genome average nucleotide identity (ANI) values were 97.6% within strains JKLM 12A2 and JKLM 13E, and less than 94% with closely related species. The digital DNA-DNA hybridization (dDDH) values were 81.45 within the two strains and less than 54.8% to closely related species. The major cellular fatty acids were C in summed feature 8, C/C in summed feature 2, and C. The DNA G+C content of JKLM 12A2 and JKLM 13E was 60.8mol%. The data on genomic, chemotaxonomic, and phenotypic characteristics indicates that the strains JKLM 12A2 and JKLM 13E represent a novel species, Rhizobium indicum sp. nov. The type strain is JKLM 12A2 (= MCC 3961=KACC 21380=JCM 33658). However, the strain JKLM 19E represents a member of "R. hidalgonense" and the symbiovar viciae.
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September 2020

The effect of methotrexate on neutrophil reactive oxygen species and CD177 expression in rheumatoid arthritis.

Clin Exp Rheumatol 2021 May-Jun;39(3):479-486. Epub 2020 Jun 23.

Rheumatology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.

Objectives: Neutrophils are found in abundance in the synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), where they are activated and show high reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. However, there is limited data on circulating neutrophils in peripheral blood of patients with RA in terms of ROS production, expression of activation markers and the effect of treatment with methotrexate (MTX) on ROS.

Methods: This single-centre prospective study recruited patients of RA classified as per the 2010 ACR/EULAR criteria. In the cross-sectional arm, we included three groups, treatment-naïve RA (naïve-RA), MTX-treated RA (MTX-RA) and healthy controls, and compared ROS production and surface markers of neutrophil activation. In the longitudinal arm, we studied the change in neutrophil ROS production after 8 weeks of MTX treatment in naïve-RA patients. Neutrophil ROS production was measured by flow cytometry using dihydrorhodamine-123 (DHR) and by chemiluminescence using luminol. Surface expression of CD177, CD11b and CD64 was measured by flow cytometry.

Results: This study included 103 patients (50 naïve-RA, 53 MTX-RA) and 20 controls. Both naïve-RA and MTX-RA patients showed higher ROS production than healthy controls in unstimulated neutrophils in the DHR assay (p<0.001 and p=0.004). MTX-RA patients showed significantly lower ROS production than naive-RA, in both unstimulated (p=0.004) and PMA-stimulated neutrophils in the DHR assay (p=0.03). On longitudinal follow-up of 24 naïve-RA patients, there was a significant reduction of neutrophil ROS production (by 55% from baseline) (p<0.001) after 8 weeks of MTX. Neutrophil CD177 expression was higher in both naïve-RA and MTX-RA (trend) than controls (p=0.001 and p=0.09). MTX-RA neutrophils showed lower expression of CD177 than naïve-RA (p=0.01). CD11b expression was higher in MTX-RA compared to controls (p=0.01).

Conclusions: Circulating neutrophils in RA showed higher ROS production and higher expression of CD177 and CD11b compared to controls. MTX treatment was associated with a reduction in ROS production and CD177 expression, which may be one of the mechanisms by which MTX works in RA.
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May 2021