Metabolism and inflammation in rheumatic diseases

Research group
Active research
Project owner
Institute of medicine

Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Wallenberg Centre for Molecular and Translational Medicine at the University of Gothenburg, Svenska Sällskapet för Medicinsk Forskning, Gustaf V 80-års fond

Short description

We study the interplay between metabolism and inflammation, an emerging field of research at the intersection between these two historically distinct disciplines. We are specifically interested in how metabolism and inflammation interacts in the development of rheumatic diseases, with a specific focus on rheumatoid arthritis and systemic sclerosis.


By combining epidemiologic and –omics data from large patients’ cohorts and in vitro studies in primary human cells, our group aims to understand the interplay between metabolism and inflammation in the development of rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory joint disease affecting about 1 % of the Swedish population, as well as systemic sclerosis, a rare and complex rheumatic disease affecting the immune system, the microvascular system, and the connective tissue in different organs. 

Previous Results

Project: Role of bariatric surgery in the prevention of rheumatic diseases

Our group studied the effect of obesity surgery (also known as bariatric surgery) on the development of inflammatory joint disease in a large intervention study, the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study including more than 4000 subjects affected by obesity. We have shown that bariatric surgery decreases the incidence of gout in subjects with obesity (Maglio C et al, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2017). In the same cohort, we have also shown that bariatric surgery associates with a lower incidence of psoriasis (Maglio C et al, Obesity 2017). On the contrary, we did not detect any association between bariatric surgery and the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis in participants of the SOS study followed up for up to 29 years. (Maglio C et al, Rheumatology (Oxford) 2020).

Project: Adiponectin and rheumatoid arthritis

Our group has demonstrated that high serum adiponectin levels at baseline are associated with an increased risk to develop rheumatoid arthritis in the future in subjects with obesity followed up for up to 29 years (Zhang Y et al, Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology 2020). The association between baseline levels of adiponectin and risk of future development of RA in subjects with overweight/obesity has also been confirmed in an independent cohort (Zhang Y et al, Journal of Clinical Medicine 2021). In patients with untreated newly diagnosed RA, circulating adiponectin levels are associated with pro-inflammatory chemokines involved in RA pathogenesis as well as markers of inflammation (Vasileiadis, G.K et al, Biomolecules 2021). In in vitro cultured human primary fibroblast like synoviocytes, human recombinant adiponectin can induce the production of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines (Zhang Y et al, Frontiers in Immunology 2021).

Key publications