Tocilizumab potentially prevents bone loss in patients with anticitrullinated protein antibody-positive rheumatoid arthritis

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© 2017 Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with a high risk of osteoporosis and fracture. Interleukin (IL)-6 inhibitors may suppress osteoclast activation. Anticitrullinated protein antibody (ACPA) titers are inversely associated with bone mineral density (BMD). However, the differential effect of ACPA on bone turnover marker (BTM) and BMD changes after IL-6 inhibition remains unclear. This prospective study recruited patients with active RA with inadequate response to methotrexate or biologics. BMD was measured before and after 2-year tocilizumab (TCZ) treatment. Serum osteocalcin, N-terminal propeptide of type I collagen (P1NP), and C-terminal cross-linking telopeptide of type I collagen (CTX) levels were assessed at the baseline and after treatment. We enrolled 76 patients with RA (89.5% women, age: 57.2 ± 13.3 years) receiving TCZ. The 28-joint disease activity score was negatively correlated with BMD and T-scores of the lumbar spine and bilateral femoral neck. ACPA-positive patients had lower lumbar spine and femoral neck T-scores. After 2-year TCZ treatment, CTX levels significantly decreased (0.32 ± 0.21 vs. 0.26 ± 0.17, p = 0.038). Femoral neck BMD increased significantly (0.71 ± 0.22 vs. 0.69 ± 0.55, p = 0.008). Decreased CTX levels and improved BMD were observed only in ACPA-positive patients. After treatment, femoral neck BMD significantly increased only in patients receiving a glucocorticoid dose of 5 mg/day. Two-year TCZ treatment reduced bone resorption and increased femoral BMD in ACPA-positive patients. The net effects of glucocorticoids and IL-6 inhibition on BMD imply that strict inflammation control might affect bone metabolism.




Chen, Y. M., Chen, H. H., Huang, W. N., Liao, T. L., Chen, J. P., Chao, W. C., … Chen, D. Y. (2017). Tocilizumab potentially prevents bone loss in patients with anticitrullinated protein antibody-positive rheumatoid arthritis. PLoS ONE, 12(11).

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