Glucocorticoids (GC) are widely used in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Ongoing active disease due to GC resistance may unfavorably influence long-term disease outcome in RA. We studied the association between the presence of glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and glucocorticoid-induced transcript 1 (GLCCI1) gene polymorphisms, which modulate GC sensitivity, and baseline disease activity score (DAS) and efficacy of GC bridging therapy in RA. We prospectively studied in vivo GC sensitivity in 138 patients with recent-onset or longstanding RA. In vivo GC sensitivity was expressed as the relative decrease in DAS following 2 weeks of standardized GC therapy. All patients were genotyped for the GR polymorphisms BclI (rs41423247), N363S (rs6195), 9β (rs6198), ER22/23EK (rs6189 + rs6190), and the GLCCI1 variant rs37972 and subsequently divided in groups carrying a polymorphism associated with increased GC sensitivity (BclI-G allele, N363S-G allele, GLCCI1-C allele) or decreased GC sensitivity (9β-G allele, ER22/23EK-A/A allele, GLCCI1-T allele). Differences in baseline DAS and relative decrease in DAS in the different genotype groups were analyzed using analysis of covariance and linear regression. Baseline DAS was higher in patients who carried polymorphisms of the GR and GLCCI1 genes associated with decreased GC sensitivity. GLCCI1 genotype, but not GR genotypes, was associated with improvement in DAS in male patients with RA. The GLCCI1 gene minor allele (rs37972) may be associated with less efficient GC bridging therapy in male RA patients. Carriers of the BclI-G, N363S-G, or GLCCI1-C alleles had lower levels of baseline disease activity, suggesting a role for the GLCCI1 and GR gene in regulation of GC sensitivity to endogenously produced cortisol.

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Rheumatology International
Department of Internal Medicine

Quax, R. A. M., Koper, J., Huisman, A., Weel, A., Hazes, M., Lamberts, S., & Feelders, R. (2015). Polymorphisms in the glucocorticoid receptor gene and in the glucocorticoid-induced transcript 1 gene are associated with disease activity and response to glucocorticoid bridging therapy in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology International, 35(8), 1325–1333. doi:10.1007/s00296-015-3235-z