, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 703–709 | Cite as

Can Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs Reduce the Risk of Developing Dementia in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis?

  • Ling-Chun Huang
  • Yu-Han Chang
  • Yuan-Han YangEmail author
Original Article


Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can reduce inflammation and slow progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It remains unknown what impact DMARDs may have on dementia, where inflammation also plays a critical role in pathogenesis. Patients without a prior history of dementia who were newly diagnosed with RA between 2000 and 2005 were identified from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database. The participants were stratified by age and gender. The outcome of interest was all-cause dementia, and Cox regression models were used to estimate the hazard ratio (HR) of dementia. The cumulative DMARD dosage was stratified by quartiles of defined daily doses. A total of 20,707 patients were diagnosed with RA, and 62,121 non-RA individuals aged 20 years or older were included. Cox proportional hazard regression analysis revealed that the RA cohort was 37% less likely to develop dementia compared with the non-RA cohort [adjusted HR 0.63, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.55–0.72]. Further decreased risk was noted in DMARD users (adjusted HR 0.48, 95% CI 0.39–0.58) with dose-dependent effect. Subgroup analysis identified DMARD use as having a protective effect against developing dementia in female and younger patients. Also, in male and older patients, DMARD use further reduced the risk. These observations suggest that DMARDs may reduce the risk of developing dementia, and its effect is further increased at high cumulative dosages. These findings warrant further examination in randomized control trials.

Key Words

Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs dementia inflammation rheumatoid arthritis 



This study was supported by grants from Kaohsiung Municipal Ta-Tung Hospital (kmtth-105-021) and Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital (KMUH102-2T-05).


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Copyright information

© The American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ling-Chun Huang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yu-Han Chang
    • 3
  • Yuan-Han Yang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Neurology, Kaohsiung Municipal Ta-Tung HospitalKaohsiung Medical UniversityKaohsiung CityTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyKaohsiung Medical University HospitalKaohsiung CityTaiwan
  3. 3.Center of Teaching and Research, Kaohsiung Municipal Hsiao-Kang HospitalKaohsiung Medical UniversityKaohsiung CityTaiwan
  4. 4.Department of Master’s Program in Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, College of MedicineKaohsiung Medical UniversityKaohsiung CityTaiwan
  5. 5.Neuroscience Research CenterKaohsiung Medical UniversityKaohsiung CityTaiwan

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