An antibody used to treat psoriasis and other chronic autoimmune diseases appears to have no effect on aortic inflammation—a key marker for future risk of major cardiovascular events—researchers are reporting. The antibody is adalimumab, marketed as Humira. The drug works by blocking tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), a protein that promotes inflammation in the body. In a placebo-controlled study, researchers found that patients taking the drug saw no change in aortic inflammation compared to the placebo group, although the drug did improve several other markers of inflammation, However, the drug might still be beneficial to the heart in other ways, the researchers noted.
"Each of these increases future risk of heart attack and diabetes, so observing a reduction of these markers of systemic inflammation provides compelling evidence of beneficial effects of anti-TNF therapy in psoriasis," said the study's lead author Nehal N. Mehta, MD, chief of the Laboratory of Inflammation and Cardiometabolic Diseases at the NHLBI. The study, partly funded by NHLBI, appears in Circulation.