Background: Obesity is over-represented in patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and associated with higher disease activity, poorer effect of treatment and increased cardiovascular morbidity. Studies on the effects of weight loss are however needed. This study aimed to prospectively study the effects of weight loss treatment with very low energy diet (VLED) on disease activity in patients with PsA (CASPAR criteria) and obesity (body mass index BMI ≥ 33 kg/m2).
Methods: VLED (640 kcal/day) was taken during 12-16 weeks, depending on pre-treatment BMI. Afterwards, an energy-restricted diet was gradually reintroduced. Weight loss treatment was given within a structured framework for support and medical follow-up. Treatment with conventional synthetic and/or biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs was held constant from 3 months before, until 6 months after baseline. Patients were assessed with BMI, 66/68 joints count, Leeds enthesitis index, psoriasis body surface area (BSA), questionnaires and CRP at baseline, 3 and 6 months. Primary outcome was the percentage of patients reaching minimal disease activity (MDA) and secondary outcomes were reaching Psoriatic Arthritis Response Criteria (PsARC) and American College of Rheumatology (ACR) response criteria.
Results: Totally 41/46 patients completed the study, 63% women, median age 54 years (IQR 48-62). At baseline increased BMI was associated with higher disease activity and poorer function. The median weight loss was 18.7 kg (IQR 14.6-26.5) or 18.6% (IQR 14.7-26.3) of the baseline weight. A majority of the disease activity parameters improved significantly after weight loss, including 68/66 tender/swollen joints count, CRP, BSA, Leeds enthesitis index, HAQ and patient VAS for global health, pain and fatigue. A larger weight loss resulted in more improvement in a dose-response manner. The percentage of patients with MDA increased from 29 to 54%, (p = 0.002). PsARC was reached by 46.3%. The ACR 20, 50 and 70 responses were 51.2%, 34.1% and 7.3% respectively.
Conclusions: Short-term weight loss treatment with VLED was associated with significant positive effects on disease activity in joints, entheses and skin in patients with PsA and obesity. The study supports the hypothesis of obesity as a promotor of disease activity in PsA.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02917434 , registered on September 21, 2016-retrospectively registered.
Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Metabolic syndrome; Obesity; Psoriasis; Psoriatic arthritis; VLED; Weight loss.