Plasma Itaconate elevation following successful cDMARD treatment in early rheumatoid arthritis patients elucidates disease activity associated macrophage activation
Objective. To characterize changes in the plasma metabolic profile in newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients upon commencement of conventional disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug (cDMARD) therapy. Methods. Plasma samples collected in an early RA randomized strategy study (NCT00920478) that compared clinical (DAS) disease activity assessment with musculoskeletal ultrasound assessment (MSUS) to drive treatment decisions were subjected to untargeted metabolomic analysis. Metabolic
... lysis. Metabolic profiles were collected at pre- and 3 months post commencement of non-biologic cDMARD. Metabolites that changed in association with changes in the DAS44 score were identified at the 3 month timepoint. Results. A total of ten metabolites exhibited a clear correlation with reduction in DAS44 score following cDMARD commencement, particularly itaconate, its derived anhydride and a derivative of itaconate coA. Increasing itaconate correlated with improved DAS44 score and decreasing levels of CRP. Conclusion. cDMARD treatment effects invoke consistent changes in plasma detectable metabolites, that in turn implicate clinical disease activity with macrophages. Such changes inform RA pathogenesis and reveal for the first time a link between itaconate production and resolution of an inflammatory disease in humans. Quantitative metabolic biomarker based tests of clinical change in state are feasible and should be developed around the itaconate pathway.