Study reveals significant association between depression and rheumatoid arthritis in individuals with obesity and hypertriglyceridemia

Published in Frontiers in Epidemiology, the latest findings suggest that individuals grappling with depression, compounded by obesity or hypertriglyceridemia (HTG), may face an elevated susceptibility to RA. This underscores the significance of holistic approaches in managing both mental health and physical well-being, particularly in the context of autoimmune disorders like RA. 

The comprehensive analysis, conducted by Dr. Shand and colleagues, analyzed data sourced from the 2007-2010 United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) database. The study, encompassing 4,136 patients, noted that rates of depression, obesity, and HTG were markedly higher among subjects with RA compared to those in the control population devoid of arthritis. The researchers also observed that subjects with the co-occurrence of depression with either obesity or HTG exhibited a significantly increased prevalence of RA. However, such a trend was not evident in cases with the co-occurrence of obesity and HTG alone. The synergistic impact of HTG in conjunction with depression was particularly notable at a moderate C-reactive protein (CRP) level (1-3 mg/L), whereas the effect of obesity spanned across all CRP levels scrutinized. 

Depression emerges as a significant comorbidity in RA, affecting between 13% to 42% of RA patients. Its presence is linked to exacerbated pain, increased disability, and an elevated risk of mortality. Similarly, obesity is prevalent among RA patients, highlighting the need to explore its implications on the disease trajectory, considering its adverse effects on various chronic illnesses. Moreover, conditions like HTG warrant attention due to their potential interplay with other RA-associated ailments. HTG is notably associated with an elevated risk for atherosclerosis and numerous cardiovascular diseases. 

The study findings underscore the increased risk of RA in individuals grappling with depression, particularly when compounded by obesity or HTG. The observed dependency of this association on CRP levels further emphasizes the potential role of inflammatory mechanisms in mediating these relationships. Understanding these synergistic associations among RA risk factors could offer valuable insights for predicting the onset and progression of RA, facilitating more targeted interventions and improved management strategies in clinical practice. 


Shand G, Fuller DT, Lufkin L, Lovelett C, Pal N, Mondal S, et al. A stronger association of depression with rheumatoid arthritis in presence of obesity and hypertriglyceridemia. Front Epidemiol. 2023;3:1216497.