Cardiovascular safety of biologic therapies for the treatment of RA

Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2011 Nov 15;8(1):13-21. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2011.168.


Cardiovascular disease represents a major source of extra-articular comorbidity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A combination of traditional cardiovascular risk factors and RA-related factors accounts for the excess risk in RA. Among RA-related factors, chronic systemic inflammation has been implicated in the pathogenesis and progression of atherosclerosis. A growing body of evidence--mainly derived from observational databases and registries--suggests that specific RA therapies, including methotrexate and anti-TNF biologic agents, can reduce the risk of future cardiovascular events in patients with RA. The cardiovascular profile of other biologic therapies for the treatment of RA has not been adequately studied, including of investigational drugs that improve systemic inflammation but alter traditional cardiovascular risk factors. In the absence of large clinical trials adequately powered to detect differences in cardiovascular events between biologic drugs in RA, deriving firm conclusions on cardiovascular safety is challenging. Nevertheless, observational research using large registries has emerged as a promising approach to study the cardiovascular risk of emerging RA biologic therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / epidemiology
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Comorbidity
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Biological Products
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Methotrexate