Conversion towards an atherogenic lipid profile in rheumatoid arthritis patients during long-term infliximab therapy

Scand J Rheumatol. 2006 Mar-Apr;35(2):107-11. doi: 10.1080/03009740500474578.


Objectives: To analyse the effects of infliximab infusions on serum levels of lipids in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treated for 2 years.

Methods: Fifty-two patients (41 females and 11 males) with RA undergoing infliximab treatment (3 mg/kg) were consecutively recruited into the study. The mean (+/-SD) age of the patients was 54.6+/-12.5 years and mean disease duration was 14.1+/-8.6 years. Blood was sampled before infusion at baseline, and at 3, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. Forty-one of the patients were also treated with methotrexate, 13 with other disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and 28 with prednisolone (<10 mg daily). For comparison, lipid levels were followed for 2 years in 70 consecutively included patients with early RA during treatment with conventional DMARDs.

Results: There was an initial increase in plasma levels of cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, and LDL/HDL and total/HDL cholesterol ratios. However, after 3 months HDL-cholesterol decreased significantly, followed after 6 months by cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol. The LDL/HDL and total/HDL-cholesterol ratios remained significantly raised. HDL-cholesterol increased and the ratios improved in patients with early RA receiving conventional treatment. The changes over time differed significantly between the patient groups.

Conclusion: During infliximab infusion a pro-atherogenic lipid profile developed despite reduced inflammatory activity. The long-term decrease in HDL-cholesterol was unexpected considering the known effects of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / blood
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Atherosclerosis / blood*
  • Atherosclerosis / complications
  • Atherosclerosis / prevention & control
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / drug effects
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Cholesterol, LDL / drug effects
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infliximab
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Infliximab