The goals of this study were to determine if secretory sphingomyelinase (S-SMase) activity is elevated in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) compared to control subjects and to examine the relationships of S-SMase activity with functional status, quality of life, and RA disease activity measurements. We collected data on 33 patients who were diagnosed with RA and 17 non-RA controls who were comparable in terms of age, sex, and race. Demographic, clinical data and self-reported measures of fatigue, pain, and physical function were obtained directly from patients and controls. RA patients also completed quantitative joint assessment using a 28-joint count and functional status and quality of life assessment using the Modified Health Assessment Questionnaire (MHAQ). Archived serum samples were used to analyze retrospectively serum S-SMase activity in patients and controls. The mean serum S-SMase activity was 1.4-fold higher in patients with RA (RA 2.8 ± 1.0 nmol/ml/h vs. controls 2.0 ± 0.8 nmol/ml/h; p = 0.014). Spearman's rho correlations between S-SMase activity and oxidant activity, markers of inflammation and endothelial activation with the exception of P-selectin (rho = 0.40, p = 0.034), measures of disease activity, functional status, and quality of life were not statistically significant in patients with RA. We confirmed that S-SMase activity is higher among RA patients compared to controls, as in other acute and chronic inflammatory diseases. Future studies can build on the present findings to understand more fully the biologic role(s) of S-SMase activity in RA.
Keywords: Biomarkers; Cytokines; Inflammation; Rheumatoid arthritis.