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Horm Metab Res. 2011 Oct;43(11):801-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1287783. Epub 2011 Oct 18.

Systemic blockade of TNF-α does not improve insulin resistance in humans.

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Servicio de Reumatología, Hospital Universitario de Canarias, La Laguna, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.


The purpose of this study was to determine whether long-term modulation of inflammatory activity by tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α inhibitors has some influence on insulin resistance (IR). 16 active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients without CV risk factors treated with anti-TNF-α agents were included in this study. RA activity by disease activity score 28, IR by HOMA2-IR, body composition by impedance analysis, physical activity by accelerometry, abdominal fat distribution by magnetic resonance imaging, and serum level of key adipokines by ELISA were measured at baseline and during a 1-year follow-up period. Patient body mass index increased significantly (26.94 ± 3.88 vs. 28.06 ± 4.57 kg/m2, p=0.02) after 1 year of treatment. Body composition, in terms of fat and fat-free mass, remained unchanged except for a significant elevation in body cell mass (25.50 ± 4.60 vs. 26.60 ± 3.17 kg, p=0.02). Basal levels of IR in the RA patients included in this study were significantly higher than healthy controls (1.6 ± 0.8 vs. 1.11 ± 0.56, p=0.011) but did not change during the follow-up. Nor did basal concentrations of adiponectin, visfatin, leptin, ghrelin, resistin, and apelin in response to anti-TNF-α treatment; only retinol-binding protein 4, showed a significant increase (51.7 ± 32.7 vs. 64.9 ± 28.4 μg/ml, p=0.03) at the end of the study. IR, adiposity distribution, and serum levels of most adipokines are not significantly affected by long-term inhibition of TNF-α in RA patients. Our data suggest that although systemic blockade of TNF-α exerts an anticachectic effect in RA patients, it does not seem to play a major role in IR.

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