(HealthDay News) — Oral contraceptive (OC) exposure is associated with better patient-reported outcomes in early inflammatory arthritis, according to a study published online August 14 in Arthritis Care & Research.
Katinka Albrecht, MD, from the German Rheumatism Research Center in Berlin, and colleagues examined the correlation between OC exposure and clinical outcomes in an early arthritis cohort. Two hundred seventy-three female patients with early inflammatory arthritis, aged 18–60 years, with no exposure to hormone replacement were studied.
The researchers found that 18, 63, and 19% of patients had never used OCs, had used OCs in the past, and currently used OCs, respectively. Compared with never use, current/past OC use correlated with better Rheumatoid Arthritis Impact of Disease (RAID) score, the Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease Activity Index, the Profile of Mood and Discomfort, and the Hannover Functional Assessment (FFbH) scores at 12 months (all P<0.05). Women with current/past OC use had significantly better mean RAID scores over two years (P<0.001). There was no correlation for actual inflammatory markers with OC use. Compared with current/past users, glucocorticoids were used by a higher percentage of OC never users (P=0.08), especially in patients with impaired function (FFbH<70: odds ratio, 4.2).
“For past as well as current use, OCs seem to moderate patient-reported outcomes in inflammatory arthritis,” the authors write. “Protective effects may be induced via central nervous pathways rather than through the suppression of peripheral inflammation.”
The Course and Prognosis of Early Arthritis cohort was funded by an unconditional grant from Pfizer.