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Joint Bone Spine
Volume 86, n° 3
pages 335-341 (mai 2019)
Doi : 10.1016/j.jbspin.2018.07.002
accepted : 1 July 2018
Original Articles

Serum retinol-binding protein 4 is associated with insulin resistance in patients with early and untreated rheumatoid arthritis

Yanlin Wei, Nannan Xia, Weifeng Zhang, Jiashu Huang, Zhijuan Ren, Lijuan Zhu, Zhenshan Zhang, Lei Yang
 Rheumatology and Immunology Department, Zhengzhou Central Hospital Affiliated to Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, China 

Corresponding author.

Retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4), systemic inflammation and insulin resistance (IR) are linked, yet the determinants of RBP4 and its impact on IR in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are incompletely understood. The aim of this study was to explore the prevalence of IR in RA and investigate whether the serum levels of RBP4 were associated with IR in patients with RA.


In this study, 403 individuals with newly diagnosed and untreated RA were consecutively recruited. We calculated the Disease Activity Score assessed using 28-joint counts for swelling and tenderness (DAS28). Levels of serum RBP4, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) α were tested. IR was defined as Homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) index greater than or equal 2.40.


In those 403 patients, 68 (16.9%) were male and the median age was 43 years (IQR: 36–52). There was an evidently positive correlation between increased serum levels of RBP4 and increasing severity of RA (DAS28) (r  = 0.403, P  < 0.001). Furthermore, a modest positive correlation between levels of serum RBP4 and HOMA-IR score (r  = 0.251; P  < 0.0001) was found. Eighty-five patients (21.1%) in patients with RA were defined as IR (HOMA-IR ≥ 2.40), which was significantly higher than in normal cases (4.7%). In the patients with IR, serum levels of RBP4 were higher when compared with those in patients free-IR P  < 0.001. The IR distribution across the quartiles of RBP4 ranged between 5.0% (first quartile) to 39.0% (fourth quartile), P for trend < 0.001. For each 1unit increase of RBP4, the unadjusted and adjusted risk of IR increased by 8% (OR: 1.08; 95% CI: 1.05–1.11, P  < 0.001) and 5% (1.05; 1.02–1.09, P  = 0.001), respectively. When RBP4 was added to the model containing established significant risk factors, AUROC (standard error) was increased from 0.768 (0.025) to 0.807(0.021). A significant difference in the AUC between the established risk factors alone and the addition of RBP4 was observed (difference, 0.039[0.004]; P  = 0.02).


Elevated serum levels of RBP4 were associated with increased risk of IR and might be useful in identifying RA at risk for IR and/or impaired glucose tolerance for early prevention strategies, especially in obese and women patients

The full text of this article is available in PDF format.

Keywords : Retinol-binding protein 4, Insulin resistance, Rheumatoid arthritis, Systemic inflammation

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