Changes in bone mineral density during long-term treatment with adalimumab in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a cohort study

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Objective. To investigate the effect of long-term adalimumab treatment on BMD of the lumbar spine, total hip and hands in patients with RA.

Methods. In 184 established RA patients treated with adalimumab for at least 1 year, BMD measurements of the total hip and lumbar spine were performed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Metacarpal cortex BMD was measured using digital X-ray radiogrammetry.

Results. After 1 year of treatment, BMD of the hip and lumbar spine remained stable, while BMD of the hands decreased significantly by −1.41% (P < 0.0001). After a mean follow-up of 4.0 (S.D. 1.0) years, mean BMD change per year was −0.58% and 0.07% for the hip and lumbar spine, respectively (overall P-value of hip was <0.0001 and spine was 0.67). Predictors for BMD loss of the hip were anti-CCP positivity, non-use of bisphosphonates at baseline and BMI. In European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) non-responders at 52 weeks, BMD change of the hip and spine was −1.25% and 1.08%, respectively, for moderate responders −0.61% and −1.87%, respectively, and in EULAR good responders, BMD remained stable: −0.02% and 0.06%, respectively. BMD of the hands decreased in non-, moderate and good responders (−2.85%, −1.47% and −1.26%, respectively).

Conclusion. In patients with severe, established RA, loss of BMD in the spine was arrested over 4 years of adalimumab treatment, whereas BMD of the hands and hip continued to decrease after 1 and 4 years, respectively. The changes in BMD are related to disease activity, underlining the importance of monitoring disease activity.

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