Objective: We investigated the relationships between glucocorticoid use, disease activity, and changes in body mass index (BMI) in patients with antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody–associated vasculitis (AAV). Methods: We analyzed AAV patients enrolled in the Rituximab in AAV trial. Glucocorticoid use, BMI, and disease activity were measured regularly during the trial period. We performed mixed-effects regressions to examine the associations of time-dependent cumulative average glucocorticoid use and disease activity with changes in BMI over time, while adjusting for potential confounders. Results: The mean ± SD baseline BMI of the 197 patients enrolled was 28.8 ± 6.3 kg/m2. Patients with newly diagnosed AAV tended to have a lower mean ± SD BMI than those with relapsing disease (28.0 ± 5.7 kg/m2 versus 29.6 ± 6.8 kg/m2) and higher disease activity (mean ± SD Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score for Wegener's Granulomatosis 8.7 ± 3.3 versus 7.4 ± 2.7). The most significant change in BMI occurred during the first 6 months of the trial (mean ± SD increase of 1.1 ± 2.2 kg/m2; P < 0.0001). Disease activity improvement, glucocorticoid exposure, and randomization to rituximab were each independently associated with an increase in BMI (P < 0.001 for all analyses). Conclusion: Our findings suggest that changes in BMI, as well as glucocorticoid exposure, are independently associated with improvements in disease activity in AAV. Rituximab may also have effects on BMI independent of its impact on disease activity.
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