Tumor necrosis factor inhibitors are associated with reduced complement activation in spondylarthropathies: An observational study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPLOS ONE. 2019, 14 (7), 1-16. 10.1371/journal.pone.0220079
Background The complement system is involved in pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease, and might play a role in accelerated atherogenesis in spondylarthropathies (SpA). Hence, we examined complement activation in SpA, and its relationship to antirheumatic treatment, inflammatory and cardiovascular markers. Methods From PSARA, a prospective observational study, we examined 51 SpA patients (31 psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and 20 ankylosing spondylitis (AS)), starting tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitor alone (n = 25), combined with methotrexate (MTX) (n = 10), or MTX monotherapy (n = 16). Complement activation was determined by the soluble terminal complement complex (sC5b-9), inflammation by erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP), and endothelial function by finger plethysmography (Endopat) at baseline, after 6 weeks and 6 months of treatment. Results SpA patients had sC5b-9 levels at (PsA) or above (AS) the upper limit of the estimated reference range. Median sC5b-9 levels decreased significantly from baseline to 6 weeks, with no significant difference between the AS and PsA group. Notably, a significant reduction in sC5b-9 was observed after administration of TNF inhibitor ± MTX, whereas no significant changes were observed in patients treated with MTX alone. Between 6 weeks and 6 months, sC5b-9 remained stable across all subgroups. Reduction in sC5b-9 was independently related to decreased ESR and CRP, and to increased high density cholesterol and total cholesterol. Reduction in sC5b-9 from baseline to 6 weeks was associated with improved EF in age and gender adjusted analyses. Conclusion TNF-inhibition, but not MTX monotherapy, led to rapid and sustained reduction of complement activation in SpA. Thus, the observed decrease in cardiovascular morbidity in patients treated with TNF-inhibitors might be partly due to its beneficial effect on complement. Trial registration Clinical Trials (NCT00902005), retrospectively registered on the 14th of May 2009.