Background: Treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with an anti-IL-6 receptor (anti-IL-6R) monoclonal antibody (tocilizumab) has been found to influence iron metabolism. The objective of the present study was to ascertain whether changes in iron metabolism induced by anti-IL-6R biologic therapy were independently associated with an increased infection risk. (2) Methods: A prospective longitudinal study of patients with RA treated with tocilizumab was conducted. RA patients treated with an antitumor necrosis factor α monoclonal antibody were also included as a control group. The primary outcome was occurrence of infection during the first 24 months of biologic therapy. (3) Results: A total of 15 patients were included, with a mean age of 51.0 ± 4,1 and 73.3% (n = 11) female. A multivariate survival regression model, adjusted for confounding factors, was fitted for each of the iron metabolism variables. Hazard ratios for being above the median of each parameter was considered. Transferrin saturation above the median value (>32.1%) was associated with a higher infection risk (HR 4.3; 95%CI 1.0-19.69; p = 0.05). Similarly, although non-significantly, higher serum iron was strongly associated with infection occurrence. (4) Conclusions: This study identified a probable association between infection risk and higher serum iron and transferrin saturation in patients with RA on anti-IL-6R biologic therapy. We suggest that both these parameters should be considered relevant contributing factors for infection occurrence in patients on anti-IL-6R therapy.
- Rheumatoid arthritis