Suppressing inflammatory disease activity in RA is associated with a significant improvement in retinal microvascular health, research shows.
The study involved 53 RA patients with either moderate to high disease activity requiring treatment escalation or stable low disease.
Retinal photography was performed at baseline and at weeks 6 and 24 in the patients with moderate to high disease activity and at baseline and week 12 in those with stable disease.
In the patients with moderate to high disease activity treatment escalation was associated with significant reductions in retinal venular calibre that were evident at six weeks and maintained at 24 weeks, reported the researchers led by John Moi from the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
However in RA patients with stable disease and low levels of inflammation no significant changes in RVC or retinal arteriolar calibre (RAC) were observed.
“Our finding that retinal venular widening (a biomarker of inflammation endothelial dysfunction and increased CV risk) decreased in parallel with improvements in disease activity suggests that the increased CV risk in RA may be reversible with effective suppression of inflammation” they wrote in a Concise report in Rheumatology.
The clinical utility of retinal vascular imaging for CV risk stratification or monitoring in RA requires further evaluation, they added.