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Clinical trial protocol: PRednisolone in early diffuse cutaneous Systemic Sclerosis (PRedSS)Background:: Many of the painful, disabling features of early diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis have an inflammatory component and are potentially treatable with corticosteroid therapy. These features include painful and itchy skin, fatigue and musculoskeletal involvement. Yet many clinicians are understandably reluctant to prescribe corticosteroids because of the concern that these are a risk factor for scleroderma renal crisis. The aim of PRedSS (PRednisolone in early diffuse cutaneous Systemic Sclerosis) is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of moderate dose prednisolone in patients with early diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis, specifically whether moderate dose prednisolone is (a) effective in terms of reducing pain and disability, and improving skin score and (b) safe, with particular reference to renal function. Methods:: PRedSS is a Phase II, multicentre, double-blind randomised controlled trial which aims to recruit 72 patients with early diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis. Patients are randomised to receive either prednisolone (dosage approximately 0.3 mg/kg) or placebo therapy for 6 months. The two co-primary outcome measures are the difference in mean Health Assessment Questionnaire Disability Index at 3 months and the difference in modified Rodnan skin score at 3 months. Secondary outcome measures include patient reported outcome measures of itch, hand function, anxiety and depression, and helplessness. Results:: Recruitment commenced in December 2017 and after a slow start (due to delays in opening centres) 25 patients have now been recruited. Conclusion:: PRedSS should help to answer the question as to whether clinicians should or should not prescribe prednisolone in early diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis.
Optimal Utility of H-Reflex RDD as a Biomarker of Spinal Disinhibition in Painful and Painless Diabetic NeuropathyImpaired rate-dependent depression of the Hoffman reflex (HRDD) is a potential biomarker of impaired spinal inhibition in patients with painful diabetic neuropathy. However, the optimum stimulus-response parameters that identify patients with spinal disinhibition are currently unknown. We systematically compared HRDD, performed using trains of 10 stimuli at five stimulation frequencies (0.3, 0.5, 1, 2 and 3 Hz), in 42 subjects with painful and 62 subjects with painless diabetic neuropathy with comparable neuropathy severity, and 34 healthy controls. HRDD was calculated using individual and mean responses compared to the initial response. At stimulation frequencies of 1, 2 and 3 Hz, HRDD was significantly impaired in patients with painful diabetic neuropathy compared to patients with painless diabetic neuropathy for all parameters and for most parameters when compared to healthy controls. HRDD was significantly enhanced in patients with painless diabetic neuropathy compared to controls for responses towards the end of the 1 Hz stimulation train. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis in patients with and without pain showed that the area under the curve was greatest for response averages of stimuli 2–4 and 2–5 at 1 Hz, AUC = 0.84 (95%CI 0.76–0.92). Trains of 5 stimuli delivered at 1 Hz can segregate patients with painful diabetic neuropathy and spinal disinhibition, whereas longer stimulus trains are required to segregate patients with painless diabetic neuropathy and enhanced spinal inhibition.