IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


27th November, 2023 Health


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Picture Courtesy: www.eternalhospital.com

Context: The study conducted by researchers from the Karolinska Institutet sheds light on the potential relationship between the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and the occurrence of autoimmune thyroid diseases (AITD) like Hashimoto's disease and Graves' disease.

Key Highlights of the Study

  • RA is often managed using immunomodulatory drugs like Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) or biological DMARDs, which modulate the immune system to reduce joint inflammation. However, these medications are typically not used in treating autoimmune thyroid diseases, where thyroid hormone replacement is common.
  • The researchers aimed to investigate whether the use of immunomodulatory drugs for RA might also influence the development of autoimmune thyroid diseases.


  • The study involved data from over 13,000 patients diagnosed with RA between 2006 and 2018, along with a control group of over 63,000 individuals without RA.
  • The study found that the risk of developing an autoimmune thyroid disease was lower in RA patients after their RA diagnosis compared to before diagnosis.

Key Findings

  • Patients with RA who were treated with immunomodulatory drugs or biological DMARDs showed a 46% lower risk of developing autoimmune thyroid diseases compared to the control group without RA.
  • This suggests a potential preventive effect of these medications against autoimmune thyroid diseases in individuals already diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.


  • If validated through further research, these findings could influence treatment strategies. Immunomodulatory drugs used for RA may potentially serve a dual purpose by reducing the risk of developing autoimmune thyroid diseases.
  • Further investigations are needed to understand the exact mechanisms behind how these drugs impact the development of thyroid autoimmune diseases and to establish a more concrete cause-and-effect relationship.

Rheumatic Diseases

●Rheumatic diseases are a group of disorders that affect the joints, muscles, and connective tissues.

●They cause inflammation, pain, stiffness, and damage to the affected areas. Some common rheumatic diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, lupus, and fibromyalgia.

●They can affect anyone, but some factors may increase the risk of developing them, such as age, gender, genetics, lifestyle, and environmental triggers.

●They can have a significant impact on the quality of life and daily functioning of the patients and their families. Therefore, it is important to diagnose and treat them early and effectively.

●There are various treatments available for rheumatic diseases, depending on the type, severity, and symptoms of the condition. Some treatments include medications, physical therapy, surgery, lifestyle changes, and complementary therapies.

●The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, prevent or slow down joint damage, and improve function and well-being.


  • These findings could potentially guide future research and clinical approaches toward managing autoimmune diseases more comprehensively. However, as with any observational study, more extensive trials and research are essential to confirm and expand upon these preliminary findings.


Q. Case Scenario:

Mary, a 45-year-old woman, presents to her primary care physician with complaints of joint pain, swelling, and morning stiffness that lasts for more than an hour. She also mentions feeling fatigued and experiencing occasional low-grade fever. Upon further examination, the physician observes synovitis in multiple joints.

Q. What is the most likely diagnosis based on Mary's symptoms?

A) Osteoarthritis

B) Rheumatoid arthritis

C) Gout

D) Fibromyalgia

Answer: B


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by symmetrical joint involvement, morning stiffness lasting more than an hour, and the presence of synovitis. Unlike osteoarthritis, which is more common in older individuals and involves wear and tear of joint cartilage, RA is an autoimmune disorder that affects joints, causing inflammation and potentially joint deformity.