We assessed cognitive function of female rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and analyze the determinants, with special focus on cerebrovascular morphology. Sixty methotrexate (MTX-) or biologic-treated RA patients and 39 healthy controls were included in a cross-sectional study. Smoking habits, alcohol intake and time spent in education were recorded. Standard measures were performed to assess cognitive function (Montreal Cognitive Assessment, MOCA; Trail Making Test, TMT; Victoria Stroop Test, VST; Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, WAIS; Benton Visual Retention test, BVRT), depression (Beck Depression Inventory, BDI), anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, STAIT/S) and general health status (Short Form 36, SF-36). Mean disease activity (28-joint Disease Activity Score, mDAS28; erythrocyte sedimentation rate, mESR; C-reactive protein, mCRP) of the past 12 months was calculated; anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) and rheumatoid factor (RF) were assessed. Cerebral vascular lesions and atrophy, carotid intima–media thickness (cIMT) and plaques, as well as median cerebral artery (MCA) circulatory reserve capacity (CRC) were assessed by brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), carotid ultrasound and transcranial Doppler, respectively. Cognitive function tests showed impairment in RA vs controls. Biologic- vs MTX-treated subgroups differed in TMT-A. Correlations were identified between cognitive function and depression/anxiety tests. WAIS, STAIS, STAIT and BDI correlated with most SF-36 domains. Numerous cognitive tests correlated with age and lower education. Some also correlated with disease duration, mESR and mDAS28. Regarding vascular pathophysiology, cerebral vascular lesions were associated with VST-A, carotid plaques with multiple cognitive parameters, while MCA and CRC with MOCA, BVRT and BDI. RA patients have significant cognitive impairment. Cognitive dysfunction may occur together with or independently of depression/anxiety. Older patients and those with lower education are at higher risk to develop cognitive impairment. Cognitive screening might be a useful tool to identify subgroups to be further investigated for cerebrovascular pathologies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy