Bromocriptine for Refractory Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatic Disease Unit, HaEmek Medical Center, Afula
In recent years prolactin (PRL) has emerged as an important immunomodulator in various autoimmune disorders. Bromocriptine (BRC) is a dopamine agonist that suppresses secretion of PRL. Good clinical response to BRC has been reported in patients with psoriatic arthritis, Reiter's syndrome, and systemic lupus erythematosus. 5 mg of BRC at bedtime were given to 5 patients (aged 35-50) with refractory rheumatic arthritis (RA) who had failed to respond to previous treatment with at least 2 disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. Patients were assessed at 4-6 week intervals for 6 months. 3 showed more than 25% improvement in the number of tender and swollen joints at 12 weeks of treatment. However, in only 2 of them was improvement maintained till the end of the 6 months. There were no changes in other measures of disease activity. 1 patient dropped out of the study due to acute exacerbation of her disease 4 weeks after initiation of BRC and required intra-articular injections of corticosteroid. The remaining patient did not show any significant clinical changes. No correlation was found between serum PRL levels and disease activity over time. It is suggested that some patients with refractory RA might improve with BRC. Its use in larger doses in larger groups of patients may help elucidate its role in the treatment of RA.