Prognostic impacts of glucocorticoid treatment in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis

Amir Emamifar*, Torkell Ellingsen, Anne Pernille Hermann, Søren Hess, Oke Gerke, Ziba Ahangarani Farahani, Per Syrak Hansen, Inger Marie Jensen Hansen, Peter Thye-Rønn

*Corresponding author for this work

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Identifying comorbidities in polymyalgia rheumatica/giant cell arteritis (PMR/GCA) is crucial for patients' outcomes. The present study aimed to evaluate the impact of the inflammatory process and glucocorticoid treatment on aortic arterial stiffness and body composition in PMR/GCA. 77 patients with newly diagnosed PMR/GCA were treated with oral glucocorticoids and followed for 40 weeks. Aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) was measured at baseline and during the follow-up period and compared to the results of temporal artery biopsy (TAB) and 18F-FDG PET/CT. Body composition was assessed by total body DXA at baseline and the end of the study. Of 77 patients (49 (63.6%) female, mean of age: (71.8 ± 8.0)), 64 (83.1%) had pure PMR, 10 (13.0%) concomitant PMR and GCA, and 3 (3.9%) pure GCA. Compared to baseline values, aortic PWV was initially decreased at week 16 (p = 0.010) and remained lower than baseline at week 28 (p = 0.002) and week 40 (p < 0.001), with no association with results of TAB and 18F-FDG PET/CT. Aortic PWV was significantly associated with age, male gender, left systolic and diastolic blood pressure, right diastolic blood pressure, and CRP. Total bone mineral content (BMC) was decreased in both genders (p < 0.001), while fat mass (FM) was significantly increased (p < 0.001). However, lean body mass did not significantly change during the study. Changes in FM were correlated with cumulative prednisolone dose (rho: 0.26, p = 0.031). Glucocorticoid treatment of patients with PMR/GCA had several prognostic impacts. Arterial stiffness was decreased due either to the treatment or a reduction in the inflammatory load. Additionally, treatment led to changes in body composition, including a decrease in BMC and FM excess.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6220
JournalScientific Reports
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 18. Mar 2021


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