In a small study from Spain, infliximab (Remicade®, Centocor) dramatically improved endothelial function in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but the effect was relatively short-lived.
Researchers from Lugo and from the University of Cantabria in Santander measured endothelium-dependent and endothelium-independent vasodilation in seven patients who were being treated with infliximab for at least one year.
The patients were receiving intravenous infliximab every eight weeks. After the infusion, the percentage of endothelial-dependent vasodilation rose (from 2.8% to 9.4%) and stayed high for days, but values returned to baseline measures by four weeks later.
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Infliximab is an anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha antibody. The rapid positive effect of the drug highlights the importance of TNF-alpha in the mechanisms of atherosclerosis mediated by endothelial dysfunction in rheumatoid arthritis, the researchers say. The small sample size might have been associated with the negative findings but not with the positive findings.