In this pilot study, we carried out metabolic profiling of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) starting therapy with biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs). The main aim of the study was to assess the occurring metabolic changes associated with therapy success and metabolic pathways involved. In particular, the potential of the metabolomics profiles was evaluated as therapeutically valuable prognostic indicators of the effectiveness of bDMARD treatment to identify responders versus non-responders prior to implementing treatment. Plasma metabolomic profiles of twenty-five patients with RA prior bDMARD treatment and after three months of therapy were obtained by H NMR, liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry, and gas chromatography – mass spectrometry and evaluated by statistical and multivariate analyses. In the group of responders, significant differences in their metabolic patterns were seen after three months of the bDMARD therapy compared with profiles prior to treatment. We identified 24 metabolites that differed significantly between these two-time points mainly belonging to amino acid metabolism, peptides, lipids, cofactors, and vitamins and xenobiotics. Eleven metabolites differentiated responders versus non-responders before treatment. Additionally, N-acetylglucosamine and N-acetylgalactosamine (GlycA) and N-acetylneuraminic acid (GlycB) persisted significant in comparison responders to non-responders after three months of therapy. Moreover, those two metabolites indicated prediction of response potential by results of receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. The applied analysis provides novel insights into the metabolic pathways involved in RA patient’s response to bDMARD and therapy effectiveness. GlycA and GlycB are promising biomarkers to identify responding patients prior onset of bDMARD therapy.
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