Abnormal body composition phenotypes in Vietnamese women with early rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2011 Jul;50(7):1250-8. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ker004. Epub 2011 Feb 3.


Objectives: To characterize body composition phenotypes using a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) method and to explore factors potentially contributing to alterations in body composition in Vietnamese women with early RA.

Methods: A total of 105 women with early RA (disease duration ≤ 3 years) and 105 age-matched healthy women underwent physical examination, total and regional lean mass (LM) and fat mass (FM) with DXA. The 28-joint DAS (DAS-28) and disability using HAQ score, nutrition, physical activity and medications were recorded.

Results: Means of weight and BMI were similar in RA patients and controls, but means of total body and trunk FM in RA patients were higher: 19.1 vs 16.9 kg (P = 0.007) and 10.1 vs 8.1 kg (P = 0.01), respectively, and appendicular LM was lower: 12.9 vs 14.1 kg (P = 0.02). The proportion of unhealthy body composition phenotypes (sarcopenia, overfat and sarcopenic obesity) in RA patients was higher (P < 0.001) than in controls. DAS-28 score was positively correlated with total FM and fat distribution ratio, and HAQ score was inversely correlated with appendicular LM. These body composition changes were associated with RF seropositivity, HAQ and DAS-28 scores.

Conclusions: Women with early RA had a significantly higher proportion of unhealthy body composition phenotypes, higher total and truncal FM and lower appendicular LM than controls. Disease activity and disability scores were associated with unhealthy body composition. These findings suggest that clinicians should encourage muscle strengthening and fat loss in RA patients to reduce their disability.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / methods
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / ethnology
  • Asian People
  • Body Composition / genetics*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Phenotype
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Vietnam


  • Glucocorticoids