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Antibiotic link to arthritis

Thursday August 29th, 2019

Taking antibiotics may lead to an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a new study.

As rheumatoid arthritis involves chronic inflammation linked with autoantibodies, a team from Keele University, UK, looked at the possible influence of antibiotics.

They used figures from primary care on 22,677 people with the condition and 90,013 others matched for age and gender.

This showed that the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis was 60% higher in those exposed to antibiotics in the previous decade. Those given antibiotics more frequently or at higher doses had the highest risk.

Details appeared recently in BMC Medicine. The authors conclude that the association with a higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis “may be due to microbiota disturbances or underlying infections driving risk”. They add that further research is needed to explore these mechanisms.

Researcher Professor Christian Mallen said: “This exciting work offers another glimpse into the complexity of understanding rheumatoid arthritis, opening the door for future work in this area.”

Co-author Dr Lindsay Hall added: “The more we learn about the complexity of the microbiome, and how factors including antibiotics impact these diverse microbial ecosystems, the more insights we have into how this may alter key health outcomes.

“The challenge now is to unpick the mechanisms that link the microbes to different conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, so that we can develop new therapeutics.”

Sultan, A. A. et al. Antibiotic use and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis: a population-based case-control study. BMC Medicine 7 August 2019; doi: 10.1186/s12916-019-1394-6

https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-019-1394-6

Tags: Gastroenterology | Pharmaceuticals | Rheumatology | UK News

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