Researchers from Queen Mary University of London have developed a new approach to address cardiac disease in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients.
Currently patients with RA are particularly susceptible to a type of cardiac deficiency termed diastolic dysfunction, that may lead to heart failure, resulting in a higher mortality rate amongst this patient group.
The new study, published in PNAS, addresses this unmet clinical need by developing an experimental model of cardiomyopathy in inflammatory arthritis.
After several attempts the team of researchers from Queen Mary’s William Harvey Research Institute (WHRI) successfully identified the right model by characterising experimental animals with arthritis. The animals developed cardiac diastolic dysfunction, recapitulating the symptoms presented by RA patients. Diastolic dysfunction means the heart is able to contract as normal but unable to dilate properly, ultimately leading to heart failure over time.
Professor Mauro Perretti, lead study author and Professor of Immunopharmacology at Queen Mary University of London said: “As is often the case, the description of a valid model of disease can open new vistas on pathogenic mechanisms as well as on novel therapeutic approaches. At present, the cardiomyopathy of patients affected by rheumatoid arthritis is not treated and, on top of this, current anti-rheumatic drugs (e.g. biologics or steroids) may even worsen it. As such there is an urgent therapeutic need to intervene and treat, if not cure, the cardiomyopathy of patients affected by rheumatoid arthritis.”
“The broad area of cardiac inflammation is largely unexplored. At the WHRI we have several groups addressing experimental and translational work on several syndromes of the heart. Thus, there is work on myocarditis, on diabetes-induced cardiomyopathy and now with this study, the cardiomyopathy of inflammatory arthritis. The WHRI at Queen Mary University of London is a place of excellence to study cardiac inflammation in all its multiple faces, thanks also to our partnership with the Barts Heart Centre at Barts Health NHS Trust.”
- Research paper: ‘Annexin A1 attenuates cardiac diastolic dysfunction in mice with inflammatory arthritis’. Chen et al. PNAS DOI:10.1073/pnas.2020385118
About Queen Mary University of London
At Queen Mary University of London, we believe that a diversity of ideas helps us achieve the previously unthinkable.
In 1785, Sir William Blizard established England’s first medical school, The London Hospital Medical College, to improve the health of east London’s inhabitants. Together with St Bartholomew’s Medical College, founded by John Abernethy in 1843 to help those living in the City of London, these two historic institutions are the bedrock of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Today, Barts and The London continues to uphold this commitment to pioneering medical education and research. Being firmly embedded within our east London community, and with an approach that is driven by the specific health needs of our diverse population, is what makes Barts and The London truly distinctive.
Our local community offer to us a window to the world, ensuring that our ground-breaking research in cancer, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, and population health not only dramatically improves the outcomes for patients in London, but also has a far-reaching global impact.
This is just one of the many ways in which Queen Mary is continuing to push the boundaries of teaching, research and clinical practice, and helping us to achieve the previously unthinkable.