Some Rheumatoid Arthritis medications can help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s

By Alan Mozes
Health Announcer

TUESDAY, April 12, 2022 (HealthDay News) – As they search for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, scientists are looking at several rheumatoid arthritis treatments.

Preliminary evidence suggests that a type of rheumatoid arthritis medication called TNF inhibitors can lower the risk of dementia in rheumatoid arthritis patients who also have heart disease.

But no one is saying that these drugs are widely prescribed to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The research results “should only be considered hypothesis-generating,” stressed research lead author Rishi Desai. She is an assistant physician of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

But Desai told his group to encourage “new studies in different nations to explore this knowledge further.”

The study looked at the prevalence of dementia among 22,500 older Americans treated for rheumatoid disease at some point between 2007 and 2017.

The researchers took one of three classes of rheumatoid arthritis medication: JAK inhibitors (tofacitinib), IL-6 inhibitors (tocilizumab), or TNF inhibitors. All are designed to prevent the type of inflammation that triggers the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

In conclusion, only TNF medications have been known to be associated with a lower risk of developing dementia, and only among those patients with rheumatoid arthritis also have some heart disease. The drugs in this class are Remicade (infliximab), Enbrel (etanercept), Humira (adalimumab) and Cimzia (certolizumab pegol).

The report was published online April 8 at JAMA Network was launched.

“We’ve seen some links between rheumatoid arthritis biology and Alzheimer’s biology, but these are complex diseases and we don’t understand the relationships,” said Heather Synder, vice president of health and science relations. with the Alzheimer’s Association. The company has not participated in the current trial.

“While not surprising, these new findings are interesting and point to areas for future researchers to look for changes in dementia,” he said.

TNF stands for tumor necrosis factor, a protein that can stimulate inflammation and promote immune system diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Its benefits in the fight to reduce the risk of dementia have been investigated through a process called Drug Repurposing for Effective Alzheimer’s Medicines (DREAM).

The patients included in the current study were 65 years of age or older. Only under 20% were treated for rheumatoid arthritis with a JAK inhibitor, while more than one-quarter were receiving an IL-6 inhibitor medication. The rest – more than half – received a TNF inhibitor.

Researchers have already begun to see the effect of each of the three medications on dementia, compared with a four-way rheumatoid arthritis treatment option called a T-cell activation inhibitor (abatacept). The team found in its previous research that these four pathways did not provide anti-dementia protection.

And so far around, the team has never seen an association between any of the three treatment regimens and a lower risk for Alzheimer’s / dementia.

However, a later discussion showed a lower incidence of dementia among rheumatoid arthritis patients taking TNF medications who also had heart disease. (About 13% of patients on TNF had a history of atrial fibrillation, about 15% had a history of coronary heart disease and about 9% had a history of stroke.)

As for what explains the link, Desai said heart disease itself increases the risk of developing dementia. But he said it was not clear exactly how TNF could lower dementia in some patients.

Snyder agreed.

“There is not enough evidence to show that rheumatoid arthritis medications are an effective pain reliever for a certain population,” he said. “But we encourage research in this area to continue and make people consider participating in Alzheimer’s clinical trials.”

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More information about Alzheimer’s disease is available at the Alzheimer’s Association.

SOURCES: Rishi J. Desai, MS, PhD, assistant professor, medicine, and epidemiologist, division of pharmaco-epidemiology and pharmaco-economics, department of medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School , Boston; Heather Snyder, PhD, vice president, physical therapy and science, Alzheimer’s Association; JAMA Network was launchedApril 8, 2022, online

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