Clinical and experimental rheumatology

Relationship of abdominal adiposity and body composition with endothelial dysfunction in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

PMID 26148347


We aimed to investigate whether the abnormalities in body composition and abdominal fat that occur in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are associated with the presence of endothelial dysfunction. Cross-sectional study that encompassed 197 women (100 RA patients and 97 age-matched controls). Patients and controls were evaluated to establish endothelial function by brachial artery flow-mediated dilatation (FMD). Dual-x-ray-absorptiometry-derived body composition and abdominal adiposity by magnetic resonance imaging were assessed. Multiple regression analysis was performed to study the relationship between body composition and endothelial function. FMD was higher in controls compared to RA patients (8.5 [4.5-15.6] % vs. 5.3 [0.0-9.2] %, p=0.00). Appendicular-to-total lean mass ratio (0.42 ± 0.02 vs. 0.40 ± 0.03, p=0.00) and appendicular-to-trunk lean mass (0.82 ± 0.08 vs. 0.78 ± 0.08, p=0.00) were lower in RA patients. Visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat tissues did not differ between patients and controls. Body mass index over 30 kg/m2 was common in patients and controls (44 and 32%). High sarcopenia tended to be more elevated in RA after multivariate adjustment (13% vs. 7%, p=0.06). Fat mass index showed a negative association (per standard deviation-SD-), after adjusting for comorbidity, with FMD in controls (beta coef. -0.45[-1.05-0.05], p=0.03) but not in patients. Overfat definition (beta coef. -0.81[-1.73-0.00], p=0.05) and visceral fat (per SD beta coef. -0.60 [-1.18-0.02], p=0.04) were associated with a lower FMD values in controls but not in RA patients. Trend analysis revealed that sarcopenia was related to increased endothelial dysfunction in both patients and controls. Our findings suggest that fat accumulation is not associated with endothelial dysfunction in RA patients. However, RA patients with sarcopenia are more likely to suffer endothelial dysfunction possibly being at higher cardiovascular risk.