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Lipid Profile May Help Predict Future Rheumatoid Arthritis

Unfavorable blood lipid ratio present up to a decade before onset of disease symptoms

THURSDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) -- As early as a decade before the onset of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms, RA patients have a significantly more atherogenic lipid profile than those who don't develop the disease, according to a study published online June 7 in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Michael Nurmohamed, M.D., of the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues analyzed 1,078 blood samples from a blood bank, which were collected over a 15-year period from 79 donors who subsequently developed RA, and compared them with 1,071 blood samples from matched controls. They measured total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLc), triglycerides, apolipoprotein A-1, apolipoprotein B (apo B) and lipoprotein (a).

Compared with controls, subsequent RA patients had on average 4 percent higher total cholesterol, 9 percent lower HDLc, 17 percent higher triglyceride and 6 percent higher apo B levels. The concentration of C reactive protein only accounted for a limited portion of the differences in lipid levels.

"Our study supports the finding that RA patients have a more atherogenic lipid profile even in the preclinical phase of RA, which ultimately could explain the increased cardiovascular risk in RA," the authors write. "As inflammation only marginally explains the differences between the two groups, a modulating effect of lipids on inflammatory processes is hypothesized."

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