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Research Article

Differential Impact of Biologic Therapy on Heart Function Biomarkers in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: Observational Study on Etanercept, Adalimumab, and Tocilizumab

[ Vol. 28 , Issue. 24 ]


Beata Dubiel-Braszczok, Karolina Nowak, Aleksander Owczarek, Małgorzata Engelmann, Olga Gumkowska-Sroka and Przemysław J. Kotyla*   Pages 2029 - 2037 ( 9 )


Background: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) represents the most frequent form of inflammatory arthritis, affecting approximately 1% of the population worldwide. The introduction of novel therapeutic strategies targeting proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-α and interleukin-6) revolutionized the treatment of RA. This kind of treatment, although effective in a substantial portion of patients, may potentially cause many side effects. Among them, cardiovascular safety is one of the main concerns.

Objectives: In the present study, we investigated the impact of treatment with anti-TNF-α and anti-IL-6 agents on heart function and levels of heart function biomarkers.

Methods: To measure this, we used cardiac function biomarkers, such as NT-pro Brain Natriuretic Peptide, mid regional pro-Atrial Natriuretic Peptide, Galectin-3, and Heart-Type Fatty Acid-Binding Protein and compared them to patients treated with methotrexate as well as healthy controls.

Results: Patients treated with biologics were characterized by low disease activity or were in remission. The disease activity in these groups was significantly lower than in the methotrexate group. All patients recruited for the study were characterized by normal heart function measured using echocardiography (EF>50%). With the exception of MR-proANP between tocilizumab and adalimumab (median: 1.01 vs. 0.49 nmol/L, p<0.05), we failed to observe any significant differences in biomarkers levels between groups treated with biologics. Contrary to this, patients on MTX showed higher NT-proBNP levels compared to adalimumab and healthy controls (p<0.05 for both). Striking differences have been shown in regard to H-FABP. The levels of these biomarkers were elevated in all biologics and the methotrexate group compared to healthy controls.

Conclusion: As this biomarker reflects potential heart injury, we suggest that heart damage proceeds in a continuous manner in RA patients despite effective treatment and attainment of remission/low disease activity. This finding, however, should be verified in a larger cohort of RA patients to ascertain if the routine assessment of H-FABP may be useful for the detection of patients with RA who are at risk of development of heart damage.


Heart function, NT-proBNP, galectin-3, MR-proANP, H-FABP, biologics, rheumatoid arthritis.


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