Weight Loss, Gain in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Influenced by Disease-Modifying Drugs


Of four disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, leflunomide was most likely to cause weight loss and prednisone was most associated with weight gain, results of a study indicate.The study, “Changes in Body Mass Related to the Initiation of Disease Modifying Therapies in Rheumatoid Arthritis,” was recently published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Low body mass index (BMI) is associated with adverse long-term outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Associations between BMI and long-term risks may be partially explained by disease-related weight loss over time among patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis. Disease modifying treatments (DMARDs) used for rheumatoid arthritis might also influence changes in weight.

Joshua F. Baker at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center in Pennsylvania, and colleagues assessed how primary rheumatoid arthritis therapies influence changes in BMI. Using three large administrative databases, the researchers identified 32,859 rheumatoid arthritis patients who received treatment with methotrexate, leflunomide, prednisone and tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFis).

As potential independent factors, the researchers also looked at the patients’ age, sex, race, BMI, seropositivity for anticyclic citrullinated peptides (CCP), diabetes, current smoking, comorbidities, C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, interstitial or other lung disease, malignancies, history of myocardial infarction, chronic kidney disease, and other factors.


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