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Leflunamide has been proven to be efficient in reducing joint inflammation and destruction in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This study was conducted to examine effects of leflunamide on serum levels of matrixmetalloproteinases MMP1 and MMP3 in patients with RA.
In a prospective clinical trial, we measured in 24 patients suffering from RA, as defined by ACR criteria, serum activities of MMP1 and MMP3 by means of ELISA. Analysis of MMPs was performed before and after a treatment period of approximately 3 months (84 ± 14 days, mean ± SD) with leflunamide. Additionally, conventional inflammatory parameters (CRP, ESR) and clinical data of RA activity were determined.
Leflunamide treatment lead to a highly significant reduction of MMP1 serum activity (p < 0.001), whereas MMP3 values were not influenced. Furthermore, the number of painful (p < 0.01) and swollen (p < 0.05) joints decreased significantly as well as clinical inflammatory joint activity scores (GLASS, p < 0.001) and levels of CRP (p < 0.05).
In accordance with recent data, leflunamide is effective in reducing the clinical inflammatory activity of RA, and in decreasing the activity of matrix-degrading factors like MMP1. The differential effect of this immunomodulative drug on MMP1 and MMP3 will be explored in further investigations.