Effect of anti-TNFα treatment on circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) in rheumatoid arthritis

Jacob N. Ablin, Viktoria Boguslavski, Valerie Aloush, Ori Elkayam, Daphna Paran, Dan Caspi, Jacob George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, which may be attenuated by anti-inflammatory treatment. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) have the ability to differentiate into mature endothelium and have a potentially reparative role protecting against ischemia and atherosclerosis. Objective: To investigate the effect of treatment with infliximab on the number and functional capacity of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) in patients with RA, as a possible mechanism for reducing cardiovascular morbidity in this disorder. Methods: Patients: Active seropositive RA patients (N = 14) considered candidates for starting infliximab treatment, were recruited. Assessment, based on DAS-28, was performed before treatment and 14 days later. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were isolated and EPC numbers evaluated by the colony-forming unit (CFU) method. Endothelial phenotyping of CFU was performed by immunofluorescence employing antibodies to Tie-2 VEGF-receptor 2, and CD31. EPC Functional properties were evaluated by fibronectin adherance. Results: A significant 33.4% increase (p < 0.001) in EPC levels was observed after infliximab. A 60% increase was noted in the EPC differentiation scale, (p < 0.002) while a 37.6% increase was observed in mean EPC adhesion (p < 0.001). These changes were associated with a 17.5% decrease in the DAS-28 (p < 0.0001). A significant correlation was observed between the clinical response, reflected by changes in DAS-28 and the degree of increase in EPC CFUs. Conclusion: A single dose of infliximab improved the number and functional properties of EPCs, in parallel with an early clinical effect, suggesting a possible mechanism by which anti-inflammatory treatment may reduce cardiovascular risk in RA patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2364-2369
Number of pages6
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number25
StatePublished - 17 Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Angiogenesis
  • Anti-TNFα
  • EPC
  • Rheumatoid arthritis


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