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BACKGROUND: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) are common disorders associated with increased rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD), but the contribution of cytokine-induced inflammation to impaired cardiovascular function in these conditions remains poorly understood. OBJECTIVES: We assessed the effect of anti-TNF therapy on myocardial and vascular function, myocardial tissue characteristics and perfusion in inflammatory arthropathy and systemic rheumatic disease (IASRD) patients, using cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR). METHODS: 20 RA patients, 7 AS patients, 5 PsA patients without previously known CVD scheduled to commence anti-TNF therapy and 8 RA patients on standard disease modifying antirheumatic drugs underwent CMR at 1.5 T, including cine, tagging, pulse wave velocity (PWV), T2-weighted, native and postcontrast T1 mapping, ECV quantification, rest and stress perfusion and late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) imaging. RESULTS: Following anti-TNF therapy, there was significant reversal of baseline subclinical cardiovascular dysfunction, as evidenced by improvement in peak systolic circumferential strain (p < 0.001), peak diastolic circumferential strain rate (p < 0.001), and total aortic PWV, (p < 0.001). This was accompanied by a reduction in myocardial inflammation, as assessed by T2-weighted imaging (p = 0.005), native T1 mapping (p = 0.009) and ECV quantification (p = 0.001), as well as in serum inflammatory markers like CRP (p < 0.001) and ESR (p < 0.001), and clinical measures of disease activity (DAS28-CRP, p = 0.001; BASDAI, p < 0.001). A trend towards improvement in myocardial perfusion was observed (p = 0.07). Focal myocardial fibrosis, as detected by LGE CMR was not altered by anti-TNF therapy (p = 0.92). CONCLUSIONS: Anti-TNF therapy reduces subclinical myocardial inflammation and improves cardiovascular function in RA, AS and PsA. CMR may be used to track disease progression and response to therapy. Future CMR-based studies to demonstrate effect of anti-TNF therapy modulation of vascular structure and function on hard clinical events and outcomes would be useful.

Original publication




Journal article


Int j cardiol

Publication Date





253 - 259


Ankylosing spondylitis, Cardiovascular magnetic resonance, Diffuse myocardial fibrosis, Extracellular volume estimation, Inflammation, Late gadolinium enhancement, Psoriatic arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, T1 time, Adult, Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal, Antirheumatic Agents, Cohort Studies, Electrocardiography, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Myocarditis, Prospective Studies, Rheumatic Heart Disease, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha