Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs May Prevent Thyroid Disease
Anti-rheumatic drugs used for rheumatoid arthritis might prevent the development of autoimmune thyroid disease.
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Anti-rheumatic drugs used for rheumatoid arthritis might prevent the development of autoimmune thyroid disease, according to a new observational study by researchers from Karolinska Institutet published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.
It is well known that patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at increased risk of autoimmune thyroid diseases such as Hashimoto's disease and Graves' disease. While patients with RA are usually treated with immunomodulatory drugs that affect the immune system, such drugs are rarely used in autoimmune thyroid diseases.
Instead, such patients are treated with thyroid hormone to compensate for the changes in normal thyroid function that accompany autoimmune thyroid disease.
The researchers in the current study wanted to investigate whether immunomodulatory drugs that reduce inflammation in the joints of patients with RA might also reduce the risk of these patients developing autoimmune thyroid disease.
Previous studies in mice suggest that so-called DMARDs, a type of immune-modulatory drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, can reduce inflammation in the thyroid gland. Still, knowledge of whether this effect also applies to humans is limited, according to the research team.
46 per cent lower risk with DMARD
The researchers used data between 2006 and 2018 on over 13,000 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and their treatment, as well as data from over 63,000 individuals in a matched control group without rheumatoid arthritis.
Reference: Waldenlind K, Delcoigne B, Saevarsdottir S, Askling J. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and risk of thyroxine-treated autoimmune thyroid disease in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. J Internal Med. 2023;n/a(n/a). doi: 10.1111/joim.13743
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