The effect of non-TNF-targeted biologics on vascular dysfunction in rheumatoid arthritis: A systematic literature review

Autoimmun Rev. 2019 May;18(5):501-509. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2019.03.008. Epub 2019 Mar 4.


Background: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is burdened by a significant increase in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Amongst CVD risk factors, endothelial dysfunction and arterial stiffness represent powerful predictors of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular events in the general population and in RA patients.

Methods: A systematic review of the literature was performed to identify the available data on the effect of non-TNF-targeted biologics licensed for the treatment of RA on endothelial function, arterial stiffness or subclinical atherosclerosis. MedLine (via PubMed), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) and Web of Science (WOS) databases were searched using a predefined strategy to identify relevant articles.

Results: The search strategy initially retrieved 389 records. After screening titles and abstracts, a total of 362 studies were excluded. Amongst the remaining 27 studies selected for final examination, 16 articles were included in the systematic literature review. Included studies demonstrated a significant effect of abatacept, anakinra, rituximab and tocilizumab in improving endothelial dysfunction associated with RA; the effect on arterial stiffness was less consistent and deserves further investigation. No significant effect of non-TNF-targeted biologics was observed for measures of subclinical atherosclerosis.

Conclusion: Non-TNF-targeted biologics have been associated with favorable effects on endothelial dysfunction as already demonstrated for TNF inhibitors. Future studies are needed to ascertain the impact of this mediations on arterial stiffness in RA patients.

Keywords: Abatacept; Anakinra; Arterial stiffness; Endothelial dysfunction; Intima media thickness; Rituximab; Tocilizumab.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Abatacept / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Biological Factors / therapeutic use
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / therapeutic use
  • Rituximab / therapeutic use
  • Vascular Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Vascular Diseases / etiology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Biological Factors
  • Biological Products
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Rituximab
  • Abatacept
  • tocilizumab