The effect of synthetic adrenocorticotrophic hormone (Synacthen), in conjunction with hydroxychloroquine, aurothioglucose, or pencillamine, was evaluated retrospectively in 21 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). One mg of depo Synacthen was administered at increasing intervals of 4 to 14 days for a total period of 3 to 7 months. Fourteen patients with RA on either hydroxychloroquine or aurothioglucose and not on Synacthen, served as controls. Patients in the Synacthen group were, on the whole, sicker, as indicated by a lower functional capacity, higher mean erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and systemic and articular indices. Physicians' estimate of the patients condition after 1-2 months of therapy showed no improvement or deterioration in 10 out of 13 cases in the control group. Likewise, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate decreased significantly more and seronegativity was achieved in more of the Synacthen-treated cases. Six to 8 months after the beginning of therapy (1 to 4 months after cessation of Synacthen) clinical improvement was comparable in both groups, although seroconversion was more common in patients who had received Synacthen (7 out of 10 as compared to 1 out of 7 respectively). It is suggested that Synacthen may be used safely in the early phase of selected RA patients, until the effect of second-line drugs is achieved.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis