Effects of biologics on vascular function and atherosclerosis associated with rheumatoid arthritis

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Sep:1173:814-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04645.x.


Endothelial dysfunction and accelerated atherosclerosis lead to increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Sustained inflammation is a major risk factor. Apart from traditional vasculoprotective agents, biologics may also exert favorable effects on the vasculature. Indeed, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors agents may transiently improve endothelial function. There are conflicting data regarding the effects of biologics on atherosclerosis and arterial stiffness. Infliximab stimulates the number and differentiation of endothelial progenitor cells that lead to vascular repair. There may be differences in the effects of TNF blockers on dyslipidemia, as long-term infliximab therapy may be proatherogenic, while some studies suggest that etanercept and adalimumab may exert beneficial effects on lipids. TNF blockers may decrease the incidence of cardiovascular events in RA. Preliminary data suggest that rituximab may also improve endothelial function and dyslipidemia. Further studies are needed to determine the net effects of biologics on the vasculature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adalimumab
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Atherosclerosis / complications
  • Atherosclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Atherosclerosis / physiopathology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Infliximab
  • Rituximab
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Rituximab
  • Infliximab
  • Adalimumab