Immunotherapy has the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease in patients suffering with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor-alpha and interfero-gamma, which normally protect the body, attack healthy cells.
The findings showed that the combination of two anticytokines containing extra-low doses of antibodies against TNFI and IFN could improve the efficacy of standard rheumatoid arthritis therapy and decrease heart disease risk.
"In rheumatoid arthritis, patients have painful and inflamed joints. They are also at increased cardiovascular risk, particularly if their rheumatoid arthritis is not controlled," said Aida Babaeva, Professor at Volgograd State Medical University in Russia.
Rheumatoid arthritis is also associated with dysfunction of the blood vessel lining (called endothelium), which leads to lipid accumulation in the artery wall, plaque formation and atherosclerosis.
Those patients who generally take the combination of anticytokines had a lower rheumatoid arthritis disease activity score, as measured by the DAS28, 2 and more dramatic decreases in IL-1, IL-6 and TNF alpha than the group on standard therapy alone.
The incidence of cardiovascular events such as unstable angina, severe hypertensive crisis, and deterioration of chronic heart failure were found more than double in the group on conventional disease-modifying drugs.
However people who were taking the combination of anticytokines were found healthier. For the study, the team included 68 patients who had suffered from active rheumatoid arthritis for at least five years were opted.