A 1-year case-control study in patients with rheumatoid arthritis indicates prevention of loss of bone mineral density in both responders and nonresponders to infliximab

Arthritis Res Ther. 2007;9(3):R61. doi: 10.1186/ar2219.


The goal of the present study was to record changes in bone mineral density (BMD) and markers of bone turnover in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who were treated with methotrexate combined (or not combined) with infliximab. Included were 90 patients with RA who required anti-TNF-alpha therapy with infliximab because of persistent active disease despite treatment with methotrexate. The historical control group included 99 patients with RA who were treated with methotrexate at a time when anti-TNF-alpha treatment was not yet available. Lumbar and femoral neck BMD was measured using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry at baseline and 1 year later. Osteocalcin, C-terminal cross-linked telopeptide of type I collagen, parathyroid hormone and 25-hydroxycholecalciferol were measured in plasma at baseline and 1 year later. At 1 year BMD had decreased in the control group at spine (P < 0.01) and femoral neck (P < 0.001). In contrast, BMD at spine and femoral neck did not change after 1 year of infliximab treatment. At the same time point, no change in bone remodelling markers was observed. No association was observed between clinical response and changes in BMD, indicating that even those who did not respond clinically did not lose bone over a 1-year period. These data confirm the BMD decrease observed in RA patients treated with methotrexate alone. This bone loss was prevented by infliximab therapy. Importantly, this beneficial effect was also observed in apparent nonresponders.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Bone Density / drug effects*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Drug Resistance
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Infliximab
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use
  • Osteocalcin / blood
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Osteocalcin
  • Infliximab
  • Methotrexate