OBJECTIVE: Biologics for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with moderate to severe disease may preserve joint function. Matrix metalloproteinase 3 (MMP-3), a key tissue degrading protease, is highly elevated in RA. MMP-3, which measures the total pool of circulating MMP-3 species (cMMP3), is a commonly measured biomarker in rheumatology. The aim was to investigate the association of activated MMP-3 (actMMP3) species with treatment response compared to cMMP-3.

METHODS: The LITHE biomarker study (n=741) was a 1-year phase III, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group study of TCZ in RA patients on stable methotrexate. cMMP-3 and actMMP-3 were assessed in fasting serum at baseline, week 4, 16, 24 and 52. Patients not achieving ACR20 remission at week 16 or 28 received rescue treatment (escapers). Spearman\u0027s correlation was analysed between biomarker baseline level or biomarker delta and clinical measures. Changes in biomarker levels were studied as a function of time and treatment.

RESULTS: ActMMP-3 16-week change in treatment groups was predictive of 1-year radiographic progression; a small change in actMMP3 was equal to worsening radiographics. Baseline cMMP-3 was associated with 52-weeks\u0027 radiographic status and cMMP3 16-weeks\u0027 change was predictive of 1-year change in disease activity. ActMMP-3 was dose-dependently decreased by TCZ, and escapers decreased in actMMP-3 upon treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: ActMMP-3 and cMMP-3 were found to be efficacy biomarkers of TCZ and actMMP-3 were able to differentiated doses. Moreover, the suppression of actMMP3, but not cMMP3 was associated with treatment response. This study illustrates that two biomarkers of the same protein may have different predictive capacities.

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