Serum Markers in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Longitudinal Study of Patients Undergoing Infliximab Treatment

Int J Rheumatol. 2015;2015:276815. doi: 10.1155/2015/276815. Epub 2015 Dec 16.


Objective. The aim of this study was to investigate the clinical effect and serum markers in a cohort of rheumatoid arthritis patients with moderate to high disease activity, participating in an open clinical phase IV study conducted in Norway between 2001 and 2003 receiving infliximab treatment. Method. A total of 39 patients were studied, with a mean age of 54 years and 12-year disease duration. The analyses were performed using serum from patients at four assessment time points: baseline and 3, 6, and 12 months after starting treatment with infliximab. A wide variety of clinical data was collected and disease activity of 28 joints and Simple Disease Activity Index were calculated. The joint erosion was determined by X-ray imaging and the Sharp/van der Heijde score was determined. Serum analysis included multiplex immunoassays for 12 cytokines, 5 matrix metalloproteases, and 2 VEGFs. Results. The majority of the RA patients in this study had initially moderate to high disease activity and the infliximab treatment reduced the disease activity significantly and also reduced any further joint destruction and improved disease status. Most of the serum levels of cytokines and metalloproteases remained unchanged during the course of the study, and we were unable to detect changes in TNF-α in serum. Serum levels of IL-6 and VEGF-A decreased significantly after initiation of infliximab treatment. Conclusion. The serum levels of IL-6 and VEGF-A may be promising disease markers as they vary with disease progression. The clinical significance of these findings is yet to be determined and has to be confirmed in future clinical trials before being applied in the clinics.