Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and diabetes mellitus (DM) are associated with inflammation. We tried to investigate the influence of tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFi) and tocilizumab (TCZ) on the glucose metabolism of RA patients. RA patients in whom treatment with TNFi or TCZ was initiated from 2008 to 2015 were studied based on their medical records. We analyzed patients whose glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels were measured both before and 3 months after the initiation of these biologic agents. The association between HbA1c reduction and the treatment was evaluated. From 971 cases treated with these biologic agents, 221 cases whose medical records of HbA1c were available, were included (TNFi, n = 154; TCZ, n = 67). Both the TNFi and TCZ groups had significantly lower HbA1c values at 1 month and 3 months after the initiation of treatment (TNFi, p<0.001; TCZ, p<0.001). Although the pretreatment HbA1c values did not differ (TNFi, 6.2%; TCZ, 6.2%; p = 0.532), the 3-month treatment HbA1c values were lower (TNFi, 6.1%; TCZ, 5.8%; p = 0.010) and the changes in HbA1c (ΔHbA1c) were greater (TNFi, 0.1%; TCZ, 0.4%; <;0.001) in the TCZ group. The reduction of HbA1c—defined by the achievement of a ΔHbA1c of 0.5%—was associated with baseline diagnosis of diabetes mellitus, baseline diabetes treatment, hospitalization, medical change during the observation period, and TCZ. In the multivariate logistic regression analysis, TCZ was associated with the reduction of HbA1c in comparison to TNFi (adjusted OR = 5.59, 95% CI = 2.56–12.2; p<0.001). The HbA1c levels in RA patients were significantly lower after the initiation of TNFi or TCZ. Our study suggests that TCZ decreases the HbA1c levels in RA patients to a greater extent than TNFi.
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