Research Summary

Inflammation Reduction Medications May Lower Dementia Risk in Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Jessica Ganga

A group of researchers evaluated the risk of incident dementia in patients who use biologics or target synthetic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (b/tsDMARD) or conventional synthetic (csDMARDS) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The researchers compared the two treatments and found that the incidence of dementia was lower in patients receiving b/tsDMARDs.

Building off previous research, the study authors analyzed claims data from the Center for Medicare & Medicare Services from 2006 to 2017. Included in the dataset were patients 40 years of age or older who were diagnosed with RA. Patients who were previously diagnosed with dementia were not included in the study.

In total, the researchers included the patient data of 141,325 individuals. The use of c/b/tsDMARDS was initiated 233,271 times among the patients, and researchers found 3,794 cases of incident dementia during the follow-up period.

When compared with patients on csDMARDs, the patients on b/tsDMARDs had an adjusted 19% lower risk for dementia.

 “Additionally, the researchers performed a subgroup analysis and found comparable risk reductions between tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFI)-bDMARDs, non-TNFi-bDMARDs, and tsDMARDs on the risk of dementia.

“The incidence of dementia in patients with RA was lower in patients receiving b/tsDMARDs when compared to patients on csDMARD only,” the researchers concluded. “No differences were observed between different classes of b/tsDMARDs, suggesting that decreased risk is possibly explained by the overall decrease in inflammation rather than a specific mechanism of action of these drugs.”



Sattui SE, Navarro-Millan I, Xie F, Rajan M, Yun H, Curtis JR. Incidence of dementia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and association with disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs — analysis of a national claims database. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2022;57:152083. doi:10.1016/j.semarthrit.2022.152083