ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION: We hypothesised that fatigue in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is related to TNF-alpha induced dysregulation of cerebral blood flow. Our objectives were to assess fatigue, cognitive function and cerebral blood flow before and after initiation of anti-TNF treatment. METHODS: In a pilot study, 15 patients initiating treatment with adalimumab were assessed for fatigue using a visual analogue scale (FACIT-F), cognitive function using a panel of psychometric tests and regional cerebral blood flow using MR perfusion imaging. RESULTS: Patients improved clinically after anti-TNF therapy in terms of DAS28 and FACIT-F. Furthermore significant improvements were documented in full scale, verbal and performance IQ following therapy. There was a non-significant trend towards reduced cerebral perfusion in both grey and white matter, and fatigue at 3 months correlated with cerebral blood flow in white (p = 0.014) and grey (p = 0.005) matter. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate for the first time a significant improvement in cognitive function following effective treatment of RA. Although we observed minor reductions in cerebral blood flow, and a correlation between cerebral blood flow and fatigue, a larger, controlled study would be required to affirm a causal relationship.
Raftery, G., He, J., Pearce, R., Birchall, D., Newton, J. L., Blamire, A. M., & Isaacs, J. D. (2012). Disease activity and cognition in rheumatoid arthritis: an open label pilot study. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 14, [R263]. https://doi.org/10.1186/ar4108