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Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 May;94(21):e888. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000000888.

Abatacept improves whole-body insulin sensitivity in rheumatoid arthritis: an observational study.

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From the Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences (FU, MLH, DM, FM, CB, CT, MR, SN, RDG); Science of Health Department, University of Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy (ER).


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by increased insulin resistance, a well-known risk factor for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of abatacept on insulin sensitivity in RA patients with moderate to severe disease despite treatment with methotrexate. Fifteen RA patients were recruited for the present study. Patients were evaluated at time 0 and after 6 months of the treatment with i.v. abatacept at the dosage recommended for weight range. Evaluation included oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) at both time points. Insulin sensitivity was estimated with insulin sensitivity index (ISI) by Matsuda, a measure of whole-body insulin sensitivity. ISI significantly increased after the treatment with abatacept from 3.7 ± 2.6 to 5.0 ± 3.2 (P = 0.003) with a mean difference of 1.23. Analysis of glucose and insulin values during OGTT revealed a reduction of both glucose (303.9 ± 73.4 mg/dL min versus 269.2 ± 69.5 mg/dL min, P = 0.009) and insulin (208.4 ± 119.7 mg/dL min versus 158.0 ± 95.3 mg/dL min, P = 0.01) area under the curves (AUCs). Accordingly also glycated hemoglobin significantly improved (5.5 ± 0.4% versus 5.3 ± 0.3%, P = 0.04). No significant differences were found for measures of β-cell function insulinogenic index (1.11 ± 1.19 versus 1.32 ± 0.82, P = 0.77) and oral disposition index (2.0 ± 5.4 versus 6.0 ± 6.0, P = 0.25). Treatment with abatacept seems to be able to improve whole-body insulin sensitivity in RA patients without affecting β-cell function.

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