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EBioMedicine. 2017 Sep;23:12-19. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2017.07.023. Epub 2017 Jul 26.

Muscle Weakness in Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Role of Ca2+ and Free Radical Signaling.

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Graduate School of Health Sciences, Sapporo Medical University, Sapporo, Japan.
Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address:


In addition to the primary symptoms arising from inflammatory processes in the joints, muscle weakness is commonly reported by patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Muscle weakness not only reduces the quality of life for the affected patients, but also dramatically increases the burden on society since patients' work ability decreases. A 25-70% reduction in muscular strength has been observed in pateints with RA when compared with age-matched healthy controls. The reduction in muscle strength is often larger than what could be explained by the reduction in muscle size in patients with RA, which indicates that intracellular (intrinsic) muscle dysfunction plays an important role in the underlying mechanism of muscle weakness associated with RA. In this review, we highlight the present understanding of RA-associated muscle weakness with special focus on how enhanced Ca2+ release from the ryanodine receptor and free radicals (reactive oxygen/nitrogen species) contributes to muscle weakness, and recent developments of novel therapeutic interventions.


Ca(2+); Muscle weakness; Nitrosative stress; Peroxynitrite; Rheumatoid arthritis; Ryanodine receptor

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