Antibodies to high-density lipoproteins are associated with inflammation and cardiovascular disease in rheumatoid arthritis patients

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Several lines of evidence suggest that chronic inflammation and immune dysregulation are related to altered lipid profiles in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but the actual mechanisms are still unclear. We wondered whether the development of antibodies against high-density lipoprotein (HDL) can be found in RA patients linked to clinical and cardiovascular (CV) risk factors. To this end, immunoglobulin G (IgG) anti-HDL antibodies and total IgG serum levels were quantified in 212 RA patients, 131 sex- and age-matched healthy controls (HC), and 52 subjects with traditional CV risk factors (tCVRs). A subgroup of 13 RA patients was prospectively followed on TNFα-blockade. TNFα, interferon (IFN)α, MIP1α, IFNγ, IL-8, VEGF, GM-CSF, IL-17, MCP-1, SDF-1α, resistin, and leptin serum levels were quantified by immunoassays. IgG anti-HDL levels were higher in RA patients compared with HC (P< 0.0001) and tCVR subjects (P= 0.015). Differences with HC remained after correction for total IgG levels (P< 0.003). Anti-HDL/IgG were negatively associated with HDL levels in RA (−1.182 [−1.823 to −0.541],P= 0.0003) after adjusting for demographical, clinical, inflammatory parameters, and treatments. RA patients with high levels of anti-HDL/IgG (n = 40, 18.8%) were more likely to have experienced a CV event (P< 0.0001) and exhibited increased levels of several proinflammatory mediators (C-reactive protein, IFNα, MIP1α, IFNγ, IL-8, GM-CSF, IL-17 and MCP-1). Finally, change in anti-HDL antibodies on TNFα-blockade was independently associated with increasing HDL levels. Overall, IgG anti-HDL antibodies are increased in RA independently of tCVRs and associated with a proinflammatory milieu and impaired lipid blood profile, which may contribute to the increased rate of CV events in these patients.

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