Metabolomic profiling in RA may help identifying patients prone to ILD

Interstitial lung disease (ILD), an extra-articular manifestation noted in nearly 11% of RA patients, is a major cause for poor prognosis noted in this population subset. A recent study conducted by a group of Japanese researchers has noted a significant difference in the serum levels of some metabolites in RA patients with ILD compared to those without chronic lung disease (CLD).

Furukawa et al. carried out the metabolomic analyses using capillary electrophoresis time-of-flight mass spectrometry for serum samples obtained from 100 RA patients with ILD and the same number of matched RA patients without CLD.

The researchers identified 299 metabolites during the analysis. The result of univariate analysis demonstrated reduced serum levels of morpholine and decanoic acid in RA patients with ILD, however, the level of glycerol was higher as opposed to RA without CLD. The study also noted significantly altered serum levels of these metabolites in RA patients with usual interstitial pneumonia and non-specific interstitial pneumonia.

Several studies have investigated the role of low molecular weight metabolites in elucidating pathologic metabolisms in various disease conditions. The investigations of metabolic pathways and low molecular weight compounds have been extensively carried out to understand the pathogenesis of cancer, RA, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, but very few similar studies have been carried out for RA-ILD. The present study has highlighted the significance of metabolomic profiling in identifying candidate screening biomarkers for ILD in RA.

References: Furukawa, Hiroshi et al. Serum Metabolomic Profiling in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients With Interstitial Lung Disease: A Case-Control Study. Frontiers in medicine vol. 7 599794. 17 Dec. 2020.