The impact of tocilizumab on anxiety and depression in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Shmuel Tiosano, Yarden Yavne, Abdulla Watad, Pnina Langevitz, Merav Lidar, Joy Feld, Moshe Tishler, Suhail Aamar, Ori Elkayam, Alexandra Balbir-Gurman, Yair Molad, Sharon Ehrlich, Mahmoud Abu-Shakra, Daniela Amital, Howard Amital*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: Mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are extremely prevalent among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In this study, we assessed the impact of treatment with tocilizumab (TCZ), an IL-6 antagonist, upon anxiety and depressive symptoms in a cohort of RA patients. Materials and Methods: Study participants were adults diagnosed with RA who received a weekly subcutaneous injection of tocilizumab for 24 weeks. We used the Hamilton Depression (HDRS) and Anxiety (HAMA) scores in order to assess the severity of depression and anxiety, respectively. RA disease activity indices and depression and anxiety levels were assessed at baseline, 4 weeks and study completion. Results: Ultimately, 91 patients were included in the study. The mean age was 54 years, and the majority were female (79%). The mean score in all disease activity indices as well as depression and anxiety levels decreased dramatically from baseline to study completion. Sixty patients (66%) demonstrated a significant decrease in anxiety and/or depression levels. When logistic regression was performed, an HDRS score indicative of depression at study baseline demonstrated an independent association with a significant psychiatric response whilst older age and increased baseline weight were negatively associated. HAMA and HDRA scores correlated with the following RA disease activity parameters, respectively; HAQ-DI (r =.4,.42), DAS28 (r =.29,.32) and CDAI (0.28 and 0.33), all of them were statistically significant (P <.01). Conclusions: This study has demonstrated a favourable impact of TCZ therapy on parameters reflecting depression and anxiety severity in patients with RA.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13268
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020


FundersFunder number
Hod Hasharon, Israel
Roche Pharmaceuticals (Israel) Ltd.


    • IL-6
    • anxiety
    • depression
    • rheumatoid arthritis
    • tocilizumab


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