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11-01-2015 | Rheumatoid arthritis | Case report | Article

Efficacy of inhibition of IL-1 in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes mellitus: two case reports and review of the literature

Journal of Medical Case Reports

Authors: Piero Ruscitti, Paola Cipriani, Luca Cantarini, Vasiliki Liakouli, Antonio Vitale, Francesco Carubbi, Onorina Berardicurti, Mauro Galeazzi, Marco Valenti, Roberto Giacomelli

Publisher: BioMed Central



Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune arthritis in which two inflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β, play a critical role in the induction and progression of the disease. Several reports and data from registries have discussed the association between chronic inflammatory diseases and disorders in intermediary metabolism, pointing out that prevalence of peripheral insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus is increased among patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, several studies have shown that type 2 diabetes mellitus may be considered an interleukin-1β inflammatory-mediated process, and both preclinical and clinical observations have reported the usefulness of interleukin-1 antagonism therapy in this disease.

Case presentation

We describe the case of a 58-year-old Caucasian woman and a 74-year-old Caucasian man with rheumatoid arthritis associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus. In these patients, the inhibition of interleukin-1β not only induced remission for rheumatoid arthritis, but successfully controlled their metabolic status.


We report the positive effects of the inhibition of interleukin-1 in two patients with rheumatoid arthritis associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus, with both reaching the therapeutic targets of their diseases by using a single biological agent and tapering or discontinuing their antidiabetic therapies. These findings suggest that targeting interleukin-1 might be considered a good therapeutic option for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

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