Influence of anti-TNF-alpha infliximab therapy on adhesion molecules associated with atherogenesis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Clin Exp Rheumatol. Jul-Aug 2006;24(4):373-9.


Objective: Chronic systemic inflammation plays a pivotal role in the development of atherosclerosis in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Soluble (s) adhesion molecules were found significantly increased in RA patients with active disease. Since increased levels of some adhesion molecules were closely linked to the development of endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis and administration of anti-TNF-alpha-infliximab resulted in a rapid and dramatic improvement of endothelial function in long-term infliximab treated RA patients, we assessed whether infusion of the chimeric anti-TNF-alpha infliximab might also yield a rapid and favorable effect on serum levels of soluble adhesion molecules in RA patients periodically treated with this drug because of severe disease.

Methods: We recruited patients with RA refractory to conventional therapy seen over a period of 2 months at Hospital Xeral-Calde, Lugo, Spain, who were on periodical treatment with infliximab for at least 14 weeks. Blood samples for determination of sICAM-1, sICAM-3, sVCAM-1, sE-selectin, and sP-selectin levels by ELISA were taken immediately before and after infliximab infusion.

Results: Thirty-four RA patients (25 women; mean age: 55.4 years; mean DAS28: 4.27) fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Following infliximab infusion a reduction of the overall mean values of the five adhesion molecules was observed. However, when a Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used, only significant differences for sICAM-3 and sP-selectin were observed. In this regard, sICAM-3 and sP-selectin levels fell in 26 (77%) and 28 (82%) of the 34 patients.

Conclusion: Our study confirms a rapid and beneficial effect of infliximab infusion on expression of some adhesion molecules in RA patients treated periodically with this anti-TNF-alpha monoclonal antibody because of severe disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / blood
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism*
  • Atherosclerosis / prevention & control
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / blood*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infliximab
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Failure
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Infliximab