Differences in carotid atherosclerosis between patients with ankylosing spondylitis treated with tumor necrosis factor-α antagonists and healthy matched controls

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Abstract

An increased vascular risk is present in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS). In this report, we evaluate the presence and grade of atherosclerosis in patients with AS, uninterruptedly treated with tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) antagonists for 2 years, in comparison to that in a nontreated group of healthy controls.

Fourteen patients with AS and 14 healthy controls underwent carotid sonography to measure intima-media thickness (IMT) and to evaluate the presence of plaque. Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index, Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Metrology Index, Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index scores, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein, glycemia, total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels were also recorded.

Patients with AS showed significantly lower values of mean and maximum IMT at the level of the common carotid (P = .02 and .04, respectively) and the carotid bulb (P = .0006 and .0005, respectively) compared to those of healthy controls. They also had a number of carotid plaques significantly lower than that of healthy controls (P = .02). No differences were found in IMT values at the level of internal carotid between the 2 populations.

The significantly lower carotid atherosclerosis found in patients with AS treated with TNF antagonists than in healthy controls shows the important complementary role of this treatment in reducing vascular disease progression probably by decreasing inflammation.

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