To compare the effects of rituximab versus placebo on salivary gland ultrasound (SGUS) in primary Sjögren’s syndrome (PSS) in a multicentre, multiobserver phase III trial substudy.Methods
Subjects consenting to SGUS were randomised to rituximab or placebo given at weeks 0, 2, 24 and 26, and scanned at baseline and weeks 16 and 48. Sonographers completed a 0–11 total ultrasound score (TUS) comprising domains of echogenicity, homogeneity, glandular definition, glands involved and hypoechoic foci size. Baseline-adjusted TUS values were analysed over time, modelling change from baseline at each time point. For each TUS domain, we fitted a repeated-measures logistic regression model to model the odds of a response in the rituximab arm (≥1-point improvement) as a function of the baseline score, age category, disease duration and time point.Results
52 patients (n=26 rituximab and n=26 placebo) from nine centres completed baseline and one or more follow-up visits. Estimated between-group differences (rituximab-placebo) in baseline-adjusted TUS were −1.2 (95% CI −2.1 to −0.3; P=0.0099) and −1.2 (95% CI −2.0 to −0.5; P=0.0023) at weeks 16 and 48. Glandular definition improved in the rituximab arm with an OR of 6.8 (95% CI 1.1 to 43.0; P=0.043) at week 16 and 10.3 (95% CI 1.0 to 105.9; P=0.050) at week 48.Conclusions
We demonstrated statistically significant improvement in TUS after rituximab compared with placebo. This encourages further research into both B cell depletion therapies in PSS and SGUS as an imaging biomarker.Trial registration number
65360827, 2010-021430-64; Results.