Association between red cell distribution width and response to methotrexate in rheumatoid arthritis
Red cell distribution width (RDW) is an unconventional biomarker of inflammation. We aimed to explore its role as a predictor of treatment response in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Eighty-two RA patients (55 females), median age [interquartile range] 63 years [52-69], were selected by scanning the medical records of a rheumatology clinic, to analyze the associations between baseline RDW, disease activity scores and inflammatory markers, as well as the relationship between RDW changes following methotrexate (MTX) and treatment response. The lower the median baseline RDW, the greater were the chances of a positive EULAR response at three months, 13.5% [13.0-14.4] being among those with good response, vs 14.0% [13.2-14.7] and 14.2% [13.5- 16.0] (p=0.009) among those with moderate and poor response, respectively. MTX treatment was followed by a significant RDW increase (p<0.0001). The increase of RDW was greater among patients with good EULAR response, becoming progressively smaller in cases with moderate and poor response (1.0% [0.4-1.4] vs. 0.7 [0.1-2.0] vs. 0.3 [-0.1-0.8]; p=0.03). RDW is a strong predictor of early response to MTX in RA. RDW significantly increases after MTX initiation in parallel to treatment response, suggesting a role as a marker of MTX effectiveness.
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