Synovial Tissue Heterogeneity in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Changes With Biologic and Targeted Synthetic Therapies to Inform Stratified Therapy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

  • Authors:
  • Lylia Ouboussad
  • Agata N Burska
  • Andrew Melville
  • Maya H Buch


The treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been transformed with the introduction of biologic disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARD) and more recently, targeted synthetic DMARD (tsDMARD) therapies in the form of janus-kinase inhibitors. Nevertheless, response to these agents varies such that a trial and error approach is adopted; leading to poor patient quality of life, and long-term outcomes. There is thus an urgent need to identify effective biomarkers to guide treatment selection. A wealth of research has been invested in this field but with minimal progress. Increasingly recognized is the importance of evaluating synovial tissue, the primary site of RA, as opposed to peripheral blood-based investigation. In this mini-review, we summarize the literature supporting synovial tissue heterogeneity, the conceptual basis for stratified therapy. This includes recognition of distinct synovial pathobiological subtypes and associated molecular pathways. We also review synovial tissue studies that have been conducted to evaluate the effect of individual bDMARD and tsDMARD on the cellular and molecular characteristics, with a view to identifying tissue predictors of response. Initial observations are being brought into the clinical trial landscape with stratified biopsy trials to validate toward implementation. Furthermore, development of tissue based omics technology holds still more promise in advancing our understanding of disease processes and guiding future drug selection.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2019