Objective. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with increased cardiovascular (CV) mortality. Microvascular endothelial dysfunction occurs early in the development of CV disease and is worsened by inflammation. The effect of drug treatment for RA on microvascular function has been poorly studied. We assessed the effect of anti rheumatic treatment on microvascular endothelial function in patients with RA, particularly to examine responders versus nonresponders to therapy.
Methods. Fifty-one patients with active RA and no previous history of CV disease were assessed at baseline and after 2 and 4 months' therapy with either anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha drugs (etanercept, n = 27, adalimumab, n = 3) or methotrexate, n = 21. RA disease activity, inflammatory measures, and skin microvascular responses, measured using laser Doppler imaging after iontophoretic delivery of acetylcholine (ACh) and sodium nitroprusside (SNP), were assessed at each study visit.
Results. Disease Activity Score (DAS28) decreased significantly from baseline to visit 2 and 3 (6.04 +/- 1.2, 4.34 +/- 1.3, 4 +/- 1.3, respectively; p < 0.0001). Endothelium-dependent (ACh) and independent (SNP) responses for the whole cohort did not improve significantly after drug treatment (p = 0.250, p = 0.062, respectively). When patients who responded to antirheumatic therapy (n = 31) were analyzed, there were significant improvements in both ACh (p = 0.028) and SNP responses (p 0.019).
Conclusion. Microvascular endothelial function improves in patients who respond to antirheumatic therapy. These results support the importance of effective therapy for RA patients in terms of CV effects, which might extrapolate to reduced CV events in the future. Clinical trial registration no. ISRCTN57761809. (First Release Jan 15 2010; J Rheumatol 2010;37:521-8; doi:10.3899/jrheum.090417)
- RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS
- CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE
- FACTOR-ALPHA BLOCKADE
- LOW DISEASE-ACTIVITY
- ENDOTHELIAL FUNCTION
- CARDIOVASCULAR RISK
- REACTIVE HYPEREMIA
- ARTERIAL STIFFNESS