Role of hydrotherapy in the amelioration of oxidant-antioxidant status in rheumatoid arthritis patients

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory autoimmune disease. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are involved in the pathophysiology of RA. Moderate intensity exercises have been reported to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of hydrotherapy on oxidant-antioxidant status in RA patients.


Forty RA patients and 30 age- and sex-matched healthy controls were included in this study. RA patients were subdivided into two groups: the first group (n = 20) received treatment with conventional RA drugs, while the second group (n = 20) received hydrotherapy along with the conventional drugs for a period of 12 weeks. Disease Activity Score of 28 joints (DAS-28), ROS level, protein oxidation, lipid peroxidation, DNA damage and the activities of antioxidant enzymes were evaluated before and after 12 weeks of treatment.


RA patients showed a significant change in the oxidative stress biomarkers (ROS, P < 0.01; ferric reducing antioxidant potential, P < 0.001; malondialdehyde, P < 0.01; protein carbonyl, P < 0.001; tail length, P < 0.05) and decrease in the activities of anti-oxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase [SOD], P < 0.01; glutathione peroxidase [GPx], P < 0.001). Conventional drug treatment has not produced any significant change in these parameters. However, cotreatment of drugs with hydrotherapy has decreased protein, lipid and DNA oxidation by increasing the activities of antioxidant enzymes (SOD and GPx).


Our results indicate that hydrotherapy along with drugs has reduced the severity of disease (DAS-28) by ameliorating the oxidant-antioxidant status in RA patients. Thus, in addition to conventional drugs, RA patients should be advised to have hydrotherapy (moderate intensity exercise) in their treatment regimen.

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