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Patients taking Remicade (infliximab) for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) showed not only an improvement in their condition but also a dramatic increase in both high-density lipoprotein (HDL; "good") cholesterol and total cholesterol. Researcher Michael T. Nurmohamed, MD, noted that, "contrary to expectations,"these changes do not positively alter the ratio between total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol, referred to as the atherogenic index. "Hence, the favorable effect of infliximab on the cardiovascular risk in patients with rheumatoid arthritis is not mediated through modification of the lipid profile,"said Dr. Nurmohamed.
For the study, the researchers examined 69 patients with RA to determine the short-term effects of infliximab on cholesterol levels. The results of the study showed that total cholesterol rose from 5.2 to 5.6 units after 6 weeks, while HDL cholesterol increased from 1.4 to 1.6. (The findings were published in the Journal of Rheumatology, February 2005.)