Publications by authors named "Dina Zucchi"

16 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Low Preconception Complement Levels Are Associated with Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes in a Multicenter Study of 260 Pregnancies in 197 Women with Antiphospholipid Syndrome or Carriers of Antiphospholipid Antibodies.

Biomedicines 2021 Jun 11;9(6). Epub 2021 Jun 11.

Lupus Clinic, Reumatologia, Dipartimento di Scienze Cliniche Internistiche, Anestesiologiche e Cardiovascolari, Sapienza Università di Roma, 00185 Rome, Italy.

Antiphospholipid antibodies (aPL) can induce fetal loss in experimental animal models. Human studies did find hypocomplementemia associated with pregnancy complications in patients with antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), but these results are not unanimously confirmed. To investigate if the detection of low C3/C4 could be considered a risk factor for adverse pregnancy outcomes (APO) in APS and aPL carriers' pregnancies we performed a multicenter study including 503 pregnancies from 11 Italian and 1 Russian centers. Data in women with APS and asymptomatic carriers with persistently positive aPL and preconception complement levels were available for 260 pregnancies. In pregnancies with low preconception C3/C4, a significantly higher prevalence of pregnancy losses was observed ( = 0.008). A subgroup analysis focusing on triple aPL-positive patients found that preconception low C3 and/or C4 levels were associated with an increased rate of pregnancy loss ( = 0.05). Our findings confirm that decreased complement levels before pregnancy are associated with increased risk of APO. This has been seen only in women with triple aPL positivity, indeed single or double positivity does not show this trend. Complement levels are cheap and easy to be measured therefore they could represent a useful aid to identify patients at increased risk of pregnancy loss.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines9060671DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8230784PMC
June 2021

One year in review 2021: systemic lupus erythematosus.

Clin Exp Rheumatol 2021 Mar-Apr;39(2):231-241. Epub 2021 Apr 9.

Rheumatology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Italy.

In 2020 many contributions have been produced on SLE. Our critical digest of the recent literature will be focused on genetic factors that contribute to the development of the disease, novel potential therapeutic targets (including IL-23, IL-17, interferons and JAKs), diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, classification criteria, clinical manifestations and comorbidities. We will then present new treatment options (with a special focus on belimumab, anifrolumab, tacrolimus, voclosporin and EULAR/ERA-EDTA recommendations for the management of LN) and treat-to-target strategy. Lastly, we will concentrate on some of the aspects that influence patients' disease perception and quality of life.
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April 2021

Are remission and low disease activity state ideal targets for pregnancy planning in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus? A multicentre study.

Rheumatology (Oxford) 2021 Feb 16. Epub 2021 Feb 16.

Rheumatology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Italy.

Objectives: To determine whether disease remission or low disease activity state at the beginning of pregnancy in SLE patients is associated with better pregnancy outcome.

Methods: pregnancies in SLE patients prospectively monitored by pregnancy clinics at four rheumatology centres were enrolled. Patient demographics and clinical information were collected at baseline (pregnancy visit before 8 weeks of gestation) including whether patients were in remission according to DORIS criteria and and/or Lupus Low Disease Activity State (LLDAS). Univariate and multivariate analysis were performed to determine predictors of disease flare and adverse pregnancy outcomes (APOs) including preeclampsia, preterm delivery, small for gestational age infant, intrauterine growth restriction and intrauterine fetal death.

Results: 347 pregnancies were observed in 281 SLE patients. Excluding early pregnancy losses, 212 pregnancies (69.7%) occurred in patients who were in remission at baseline, 33 (10.9%) in patients in LLDAS, and the remainder in active patients. 73 flares (24%) were observed during pregnancy or puerperium, and 105 (34.5%) APOs occurred. Multivariate analysis revealed that patients in disease remission or taking hydroxychloroquine were less likely to have disease flare, while a history of lupus nephritis increased the risk. The risk of APOs was increased in patients with shorter disease duration, while being on hydroxychloroquine resulted a protective variable. An almost significant association between complete remission and a decreased risk of APOs was observed.

Conclusions: Prenatal planning with a firm treat-to-target goal of disease remission is an important strategy to reduce the risk of disease flares and severe obstetrical complications in SLE pregnancies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/keab155DOI Listing
February 2021

Impact of first wave of SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Weighting the risk of infection and flare.

PLoS One 2021 13;16(1):e0245274. Epub 2021 Jan 13.

Rheumatology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

Introduction: The aim of this study was to investigate the incidence and clinical presentation of SARS-CoV-2 infections in a Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) cohort; to assess correlations with disease characteristics and rheumatic therapy; and to evaluate the occurrence of treatment discontinuation and its impact on disease activity.

Materials And Methods: SLE patients monitored by a single Italian centre were interviewed between February and July 2020. Patients were considered to be positive for SARS-CoV-2 infections in case of 1) positive nasopharyngeal swab; 2) positive serology associated with COVID19 suggesting symptoms. The following data were also recorded: clinical symptoms, adoption of social distancing measures, disease activity and treatment discontinuation.

Results: 332 patients were enrolled in the study. Six patients (1.8%) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection, with the incidence being significantly higher in the subgroup of patients treated with biological Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (p = 0.005), while no difference was observed for other therapies, age at enrollment, disease duration, type of cumulative organ involvement or adoption of social isolation. The course of the disease was mild. Thirty-six patients (11.1%) discontinued at least part of their therapy during this time period, and 27 (8.1%) cases of disease flare were recorded. Correlation between flare and discontinuation of therapy was statistically significant (p<0.001). No significant increase of rate of flare in a subgroup of the same patients during 2020 was observed.

Conclusion: Treatment discontinuation seems to be an important cause of disease flare. Our findings suggest that abrupt drug withdrawal should be avoided or evaluated with caution on the basis of individual infection risk and comorbidities.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0245274PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7806138PMC
January 2021

How do systemic lupus erythematosus patients with very-long disease duration present? Analysis of a monocentric cohort.

Lupus 2021 Mar 7;30(3):439-447. Epub 2021 Jan 7.

Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

Objective: to describe the disease path and the very long-term outcome in a monocentric cohort of patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).

Methods: SLE patients with a disease duration of at least 15 years from diagnosis were enrolled. The number of hospitalizations, the disease flares occurred over the disease course and the organ damage accumulation were evaluated at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 years from diagnosis and at last observation in 2019 as well. Disease state, ongoing therapies and quality of life measures were also assessed at last visit.

Results: 126 Caucasian SLE patients were included in the analysis (95% female, median age 47.5 IQR 41-53, median disease duration 21 IQR19-26). At last visit, the majority of the patients (78.6%) was on LLDAS (remission included), 53.4% were on GC treatment and 35.7% on immunosuppressant. Furthermore, 53.2% had at least one organ damage. The majority of patients (66.7%) presented a relapsing-remitting course, for a total of 158 flares during the disease course (incidence rate: 0.79/patient-year); moreover, 84.9% of the cohort experienced at least one hospital admission, amounting to a total of 328 hospitalizations (incidence rate: 0.85/patient-year). The main reason for admission was disease activity, while the percentage of hospitalizations due to other causes has been growing over the 10 years of follow-up.

Conclusion: after a very long period of disease, most of the patients with SLE are in remission and are not taking GC therapy; however, the risk of incurring in disease flare remains a real problem.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0961203320984230DOI Listing
March 2021

Articular involvement, steroid treatment and fibromyalgia are the main determinants of patient-physician discordance in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Arthritis Res Ther 2020 10 14;22(1):241. Epub 2020 Oct 14.

Rheumatology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Via Roma 67, Pisa, Italy.

Background: Remission or the lowest possible disease activity is the main target in the management of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Anyway, conflicting data are present in the literature regarding the correlation between physician-driven definitions and patient perception of the disease. The objective of this study is to evaluate the relationship between the definition of lupus low disease activity state (LLDAS) and patient's health-related quality of life (HRQoL).

Methods: This is a cross-sectional, monocentric study. Adult SLE patients were included. For each patient, demographics, disease duration, medications, comorbidities, organ damage, active disease manifestations and SELENA-SLEDAI were assessed. Patients have been categorised as follows: LLDAS, remission and active disease. Each patient completed the following patient-reported outcomes (PROs): SF-36, LIT, FACIT-Fatigue and SLAQ. A SLAQ score < 6 (25° percentile of our cohort) was used as the cut-off value to define a low disease activity state according to patient self-evaluation.

Results: We enrolled 259 consecutive SLE patients (mainly female and Caucasian, mean age 45.33 ± 13.14 years, median disease duration 14 years). 80.3% were in LLDAS, of whom 82.2% were in remission; 19.7% were active. No differences emerged for any of the PROs used between the LLDAS and the active group. Considering the LLDAS subgroup, we identified 56 patients with a subjective low disease activity (SLAQ < 6) and we defined them as "concordant"; the remaining 152 patients in LLDAS presented a subjective active disease (SLAQ ≥ 6) and were defined "discordant". Discordant patients presented more frequently ongoing and past joint involvement (p < 0.05) and a diagnosis of fibromyalgia (p < 0.01); furthermore, they were more likely to be on glucocorticoid therapy (p < 0.01). Discordant patients showed a significantly poorer HRQoL, assessed by all PROs (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Joint involvement, glucocorticoid therapy and comorbid fibromyalgia resulted to be the most important variables determining the poor concordance between patient and physician perspective on the disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13075-020-02334-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7559765PMC
October 2020

One year in review 2020: systemic lupus erythematosus.

Clin Exp Rheumatol 2020 Jul-Aug;38(4):592-601. Epub 2020 Jul 10.

Rheumatology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Italy.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease with a relapsing-remitting course that can affect various organs or systems, leading to a broad spectrum of clinical manifestations. In the past year, many studies have been published on SLE, providing a significant advancement in disease knowledge and patient management. The aim of this review is to summarise the most relevant scientific contributions on SLE pathogenesis, clinical manifestations and comorbidities, biomarkers and treatment strategies published in 2019.
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September 2020

Translation, cultural adaptation and validation of the Italian version of the Brief Index of Lupus Damage: the BILDit.

Lupus 2020 Sep 13;29(10):1198-1205. Epub 2020 Jul 13.

Rheumatology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

Objectives: The Brief Index of Lupus Damage (BILD) is an instrument of self-evaluation of organ damage for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients. The objectives of this study were the translation, cultural adaptation and validation of the Italian version of the BILD (BILDit).

Methods: The process of translation and cultural adaptation followed published guidelines. The BILDit was pretested in a pilot study with 30 SLE patients in order to evaluate acceptability, reliability, comprehension and feasibility, and then validated in consecutive SLE patients attending our clinic.

Results: A total of 167 SLE patients were enrolled. In the pilot study, the BILDit demonstrated good acceptability, feasibility and comprehensibility and a very high degree of reliability (Cronbach's α = 1). In the validation cohort, the BILDit showed a significant positive correlation with the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics/American College of Rheumatology Damage Index (SDI; ρ = 0.69;  < 0.001). Analysing the item-by-item correlation between the BILDit and the SDI, a good correlation ( < 0.001) was found for 73.1% of the items. In the multivariate analysis, the BILDit showed a significant positive correlation with age and disease duration ( < 0.01).

Conclusions: The BILDit seems to be an acceptable and reliable instrument for patient self-evaluation of disease damage, with a good correlation with the SDI. It can be considered as a screening tool for the evaluation of organ damage starting from the patient's perceptive.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0961203320940012DOI Listing
September 2020

Are patients with systemic lupus erythematosus more prone to result false-positive for SARS-CoV2 serology?

Clin Exp Rheumatol 2020 May-Jun;38(3):577. Epub 2020 May 27.

Rheumatology Unit, University of Pisa, Italy.

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September 2020

Impact of fatigue on health-related quality of life and illness perception in a monocentric cohort of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus.

RMD Open 2020 02;6(1)

Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Rheumatology Unit, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy

Background: Fatigue is a very common and debilitating symptom in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), even among those with a mild or inactive disease. The objective of this study is to define fatigue determinants and describe the impact of fatigue on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and illness perception in a monocentric cohort of patients with SLE.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional study. Adult patients with SLE were included. For each patient, demographics, medications, comorbidities, organ damage (Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics Damage Index), active disease manifestations and Systemic Lupus Disease Activity Index scores were collected. It was evaluated if each patient met the definitions of remission and low disease activity. At enrolment, each patient completed the Short Form-36 (SF-36), Functional Assessment Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue (FACIT-F), Lupus Impact Tracker (LIT), Systemic Lupus Activity Questionnaire (SLAQ) and Brief Index of Lupus Damage (BILD). The FACIT-F questionnaire was also administered to a group of healthy controls.

Results: 223 patients were included (mean age 44.9±13.2 years, median disease duration 13 years). 18.2% had an active disease, 43.5% met the definition of remission on treatment, and 11.8% had a concomitant fibromyalgia. The median FACIT-F score of our cohort was significantly lower compared with that of healthy controls (40 vs 47; p<0.001). FACIT-F scores were irrespective of age, disease duration, disease activity and damage. FACIT-F score was significantly lower in patients with fibromyalgia (p<0.01). FACIT-F scores demonstrated a significant correlation with all other patient-reported outcomes: SF-36 (r=0.53-0.77), LIT (r=-0.78), SLAQ (r=-0.72) and BILD (r=-0.28).

Conclusions: Fatigue in patients with SLE has a strong negative impact on HRQoL and patient perception of the disease burden. Fatigue seems irrespective of disease activity but significantly influenced by the presence of fibromyalgia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/rmdopen-2019-001133DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7046978PMC
February 2020

Pregnancy and undifferentiated connective tissue disease: outcome and risk of flare in 100 pregnancies.

Rheumatology (Oxford) 2020 06;59(6):1335-1339

Rheumatology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Pisa.

Objective: UCTD is a systemic autoimmune condition that fails to fulfil the criteria for a definite CTD. Given that there are a lack of studies on links between pregnancy and UCTD, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the risk of disease flares or development of CTD in addition to the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes in patients with UCTD.

Methods: This is a retrospective study using prospectively collected data for 100 pregnancies in 81 incidences of UCTD treated in a single referral centre.

Results: A total of 11 pregnancies (11%) ended in miscarriage in the first trimester and the remaining 89 (89%) ended with a live birth. Thirteen patients (13%) flared during pregnancy or puerperium and three (3%) suffered major flares that led to the development of SLE with renal involvement. Obstetric complications occurred in 26 of the 89 successful pregnancies (29%), including 1 case (1%) of pre-eclampsia; in some cases, a single pregnancy was affected by more than one complication. There was a significant link between disease flare and both anti-dsDNA-positive antibodies at baseline (P < 0.01) and disease activity at the beginning of pregnancy (P < 0.01).

Conclusion: The impact on pregnancy in the study's cohort appears to be less serious in UCTD than in other CTDs. Nevertheless, disease flares and obstetric complications can represent a clinical challenge and clinical and serological disease activity would appear to represent important determinants of pregnancy outcomes. Pre-pregnancy counselling and planning as well as close monitoring during pregnancy is therefore essential.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/kez440DOI Listing
June 2020

One year in review 2019: systemic lupus erythematosus.

Clin Exp Rheumatol 2019 Sep-Oct;37(5):715-722. Epub 2019 Jul 19.

Rheumatology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Italy.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune connective-tissue disorder with a wide range of clinical manifestations that predominantly affect women. Many aspects of its pathogenesis are still unclear, and new therapeutic strategies are progressively emerging. Thus, in this review we aim to summarise the most relevant data on SLE that emerged during 2018, following the previous annual review of this series. In particular, the review will focus on new insights in SLE regarding new pathogenetic pathways, new biomarkers, new data on clinical manifestations, clinical outcomes and comorbidities and what has emerged on new drugs and new therapeutic strategies.
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October 2019

Glucocorticoid withdrawal in systemic lupus erythematosus: are remission and low disease activity reliable starting points for stopping treatment? A real-life experience.

RMD Open 2019 11;5(2):e000916. Epub 2019 Jun 11.

Rheumatology Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy.

Objectives: To evaluate the proportion of patients who have successfully withdrawn glucocorticoids (GCs) in a longitudinal cohort of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) over a period of 6 years; to evaluate patient characteristics during GC withdrawal in relation to existing definitions of remission and Lupus Low Disease Activity State (LLDAS); and to evaluate the occurrence of flares after GC withdrawal.

Methods: Patients who attempted GC withdrawal were identified for the cohort, and the following information was assessed during withdrawal attempts: date of last disease flare, disease activity and damage and ongoing treatment. Information regarding the occurrence of disease flares after GC withdrawal was also recorded for patients who successfully stopped treatment.Definitions of remission were applied to GC withdrawal in line with European consensus criteria (Definitions of remission in SLE [DORIS]) and LLDAS in line with the Asian Pacific Lupus Consortium definition.

Results: 148 patients were involved in the study; GC withdrawal was attempted in 91 patients (61.5%) with 77 patients (84.6%) successfully stopping GCs. At the beginning of the GC reduction, the majority of patients were in complete or clinical remission (48.9% and 39.6%, respectively). Disease activity was significantly lower in patients who successfully stopped GCs, and the proportion of patients in complete remission was higher (54.2%) with respect to patients who failed in their attempt. Among patients who stopped GCs, 18 flares were recorded after a median of 1 year. The time period since the last flare was shorter in patients who experienced flares with respect to patients who did not flare (mean 0.93 years vs 6.0, p<0.001).

Conclusions: GC withdrawal is an achievable goal in SLE and may be attempted after a long-term remission or LLDAS to protect the patient from disease flares.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/rmdopen-2019-000916DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6579574PMC
April 2020

One year in review 2019: novelties in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Clin Exp Rheumatol 2019 Jul-Aug;37(4):519-534. Epub 2019 May 24.

Rheumatology Unit, Department of Medical Sciences, University of Ferrara and Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria S. Anna, Cona, Ferrara, and Epidemiology Unit, Italian Society for Rheumatology, Milan, Italy.

The current treatment approach in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) follows a stepwise management, starting from early introduction of conventional synthetic (cs) disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), moving to biological (b) DMARDs and targeted synthetic (ts) DMARDs. In the last few years, new drugs with different mechanisms of action have demonstrated their efficacy in treating such a disabling condition, and their approval, along with other more "experienced" treatments, has established their effectiveness on disease activity, damage accrual prevention, patients' quality of life improvement, confirming their safety profile. Moreover, new molecular pathways are under investigation as potential targets of new advanced therapies. Clinicians' capability of stratifying treatment strategies and decisions has improved, with several new tools for the optimisation of long-term management of RA; however, a high proportion of patients are refractory to the available drugs. Finally, as RA is a systemic disease, the knowledge in multi-systemic complications of the disease has grown, as well as the possibility in improving extra-articular manifestations of the disease, although certain drugs have potentially relevant non-articular effects, which need to be monitored. This narrative review summarises the most relevant studies published over the last year in the field of treatment of RA, with the major aim to let clinicians and researchers reflect on "what is new", "what is effective" and "what is safe".
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July 2019

One year in review 2018: systemic lupus erythematosus.

Clin Exp Rheumatol 2018 Sep-Oct;36(5):763-777. Epub 2018 Sep 26.

Rheumatology Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Perugia, Italy.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune condition characterised by a wide spectrum of clinical manifestations, partly related to the disease itself, but also linked to its comorbidities and drugs adverse reactions. Following the previous annual reviews, we focused on new insights in SLE clinical features, pathogenic pathways, biomarkers of specific organ involvement and therapeutic strategies. We finally concentrated on SLE aspects that could significantly influence patients' quality of life and that need to be investigated in detail through the development and validation of disease-specific patient-reported outcomes.
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January 2019
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