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Effects of naproxen and sulphasalazine or methotrexate on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis


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CER3954
2011 Vol.29, N°1
PI 0035, PF 0042
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PMID: 21345290 [PubMed]

Received: 24/06/2010
Accepted : 05/10/2010
In Press: 23/02/2011
Published: 23/02/2011

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:
To study the effects of antirheumatic drugs on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
METHODS:
Twenty patients with recent-onset active RA were studied before antirheumatic treatment, after 2 weeks of naproxen, and after 5½ months of additional treatment with sulphasalazine or methotrexate. The results before treatment were compared with those obtained in 20 age and sex-matched healthy controls (HC). Activity of the HPA-axis was assessed under basal conditions and during insulin tolerance tests (ITT). The ex-vivo production of interleukin (IL)-1β, tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and IL-6 in whole blood samples was measured with and without stimulation by LPS.
RESULTS:
At baseline, plasma ACTH and cortisol levels were not different between patients with RA and HC. The unstimulated production of IL-6 was significantly higher in RA patients than in HC. After 2 weeks of treatment with naproxen, urinary cortisol excretion decreased significantly (p=0.03), and the area under the curve for plasma cortisol during the ITT was significantly lower (p=0.015). The LPS stimulated production of IL-1β was significantly lower compared with baseline. After 6 months, basal plasma, salivary and urinary cortisol levels, and plasma cortisol and ACTH levels during the ITT, were all unchanged in comparison to the pre-treatment period. The unstimulated ex-vivo production of IL-1β was significantly lower than before treatment.
CONCLUSIONS:
Our results suggest that the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug naproxen suppresses the HPA-axis in the first weeks of treatment. After 6 months, this suppressive effect is no longer present, suggesting the existence of adaptive mechanisms.

Rheumatology Article