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Circulating Adipokines and Associations With Incident Cardiovascular Disease in Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Federico LE, Johnson TM, England BR, Wysham KD, George MD, Sauer B, Hamilton BC, Hunter CD, Duryee MJ, Thiele GM, Mikuls TR, Baker JF. Circulating Adipokines and Associations With Incident Cardiovascular Disease in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis care & research. 2023 Apr 1; 75(4):768-777.

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OBJECTIVE: To assess whether circulating levels of adiponectin, leptin, and fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF-21) are associated with incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). METHODS: Adipokines were measured using banked enrollment serum from patients with RA and dichotomized above/below the median value. Incident CVD events (coronary artery disease [CAD], stroke, heart failure [HF] hospitalization, venous thromboembolism, CVD-related deaths) were identified using administrative data and the National Death Index. Covariates were derived from medical record, biorepository, and registry databases. Multivariable Cox models were generated to quantify associations between adipokine concentrations and CVD incidence. Five-year incidence rates were predicted. RESULTS: Among 2,598 participants, 639 (25%) had at least 1 CVD event over 19,585 patient-years of follow-up. High adiponectin levels were independently associated with HF hospitalization (hazard ratio [HR] 1.39 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.07-1.79], P  =  0.01) and CVD-related death (HR 1.49 [95% CI 1.16-1.92], P  =  0.002) but not with other CVD events. High leptin was independently associated with CVD-related death (HR 1.44 [95% CI 1.05-1.97], P  =  0.02). High FGF-21 levels were independently associated with lower rates of CAD (HR 0.75 [95% CI 0.58-0.97], P  =  0.03). In subgroup analyses, associations between high adiponectin and leptin levels with CVD-related death were driven by strong associations in nonobese patients. CONCLUSION: Adipokines are associated with HF hospitalization and CVD-related death in patients with RA, with stronger associations in nonobese participants. These findings suggest that adipokines effectively predict clinically important outcomes in RA perhaps through an association with body composition and metabolic health. Further study is needed to determine whether adipokine measures might augment existing tools to identify RA patients at increased risk of CVD.

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