The in vitro effect of antirheumatic drugs on platelet function

Camilla Brødsgaard Nielsen*, Christian Nielsen, Mads Nybo, Søren Andreas Just, Pernille Just Vinholt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Several antirheumatic drugs lower the cardiovascular risk among rheumatoid arthritis patients. It is, however, unknown whether inhibition of platelet function contributes to this risk reduction. Only few studies have investigated the potential role of platelets as a target of antirheumatic drugs. In this study, platelet function was tested in vitro in samples from 24 healthy individuals spiked with antirheumatic drugs in clinically relevant concentrations or vehicle. Platelet aggregation was tested with 96-well light transmission aggregometry (LTA), and when an effect ≥20% compared to vehicle was observed, flow cytometric platelet aggregation and activation were evaluated and closure time was measured by Platelet Function Analyzer (PFA-200). When evaluated by LTA, teriflunomide (the active metabolite of leflunomide), tocilizumab, and prednisolone reduced ADP- and collagen-induced platelet aggregation ≥20%, while adalimumab increased TRAP-induced platelet aggregation ≥20%. Using flow cytometry, agonist-induced platelet aggregation with teriflunomide or vehicle was mean ± standard deviation (SD); 30.7% ± 5.8 vs. 41.7% ± 6.5, p = 0.02 using ADP, and 34.7% ± 13.9 vs. 55.8% ± 3.9, p = 0.01 using collagen. Results indicate that teriflunomide, prednisolone, and tocilizumab inhibit, and adalimumab increases platelet aggregation. The study suggests that the majority of antirheumatic drugs mainly reduced cardiovascular risk through indirect effects (e.g., reducing inflammation).

Original languageEnglish
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)248-257
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • experimental study
  • pharmacology
  • platelet function
  • rheumatoid arthritis


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