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Arthritis Res Ther. 2008;10(2):R34. doi: 10.1186/ar2388. Epub 2008 Mar 18.

Gluten-free vegan diet induces decreased LDL and oxidized LDL levels and raised atheroprotective natural antibodies against phosphorylcholine in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized study.

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  • 1Rheumatology Unit, Karolinska Institutet at Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge, 141 86 Stockholm, Sweden.



The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of vegan diet in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on blood lipids oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) and natural atheroprotective antibodies against phosphorylcholine (anti-PCs).


Sixty-six patients with active RA were randomly assigned to either a vegan diet free of gluten (38 patients) or a well-balanced non-vegan diet (28 patients) for 1 year. Thirty patients in the vegan group completed more than 3 months on the diet regimen. Blood lipids were analyzed by routine methods, and oxLDL and anti-PCs were analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Data and serum samples were obtained at baseline and after 3 and 12 months.


Mean ages were 50.0 years for the vegan group and 50.8 years for controls. Gluten-free vegan diet induced lower body mass index (BMI) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and higher anti-PC IgM than control diet (p < 0.005). In the vegan group, BMI, LDL, and cholesterol decreased after both 3 and 12 months (p < 0.01) and oxLDL after 3 months (p = 0.021) and trendwise after 12 months (p = 0.090). Triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein did not change. IgA anti-PC levels increased after 3 months (p = 0.027) and IgM anti-PC levels increased trendwise after 12 months (p = 0.057). There was no difference in IgG anti-PC levels. In the control diet group, IgM anti-PC levels decreased both after 3 and 12 months (p < 0.01). When separating vegan patients into clinical responders and non-responders at 12 months, the effects on oxLDL and anti-PC IgA were seen only in responders (p < 0.05).


A gluten-free vegan diet in RA induces changes that are potentially atheroprotective and anti-inflammatory, including decreased LDL and oxLDL levels and raised anti-PC IgM and IgA levels.

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