Decreased Risk of Parkinson's Disease After Rheumatoid Arthritis Diagnosis: A Nested Case-Control Study with Matched Cases and Controls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and the genetic risk landscape of autoimmune disorders and Parkinson's disease overlap. Additionally, anti-inflammatory medications used to treat RA might influence PD risk.

OBJECTIVE: To use a population-based approach to determine if there is an association between pre-occurring rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and later-life risk of Parkinson's disease (PD).

METHODS: The study population was 3.6 million residents of Sweden, who were alive during part or all of the follow-up period; 1997-2016. We obtained diagnoses from the national patient registry and identified 30,032 PD patients, 8,256 of whom each was matched to ten controls based on birth year, sex, birth location, and time of follow-up. We determined the risk reduction for PD in individuals previously diagnosed with RA. We also determined if the time (in relation to the index year) of the RA diagnosis influenced PD risk and repeated the analysis in a sex-stratified setting.

RESULTS: Individuals with a previous diagnosis of RA had a decreased risk of later developing PD by 30-50% compared to individuals without an RA diagnosis. This relationship was strongest in our conservative analysis, where the first PD diagnosis occurred close to the earliest PD symptoms (odds ratio 0.47 (CI 95% 0.28-0.75, p = 0.0006); with the greatest risk reduction in females (odds ratio 0.40 (CI 95% 0,19 -0.76, p = 0.002).

DISCUSSION: Our findings provide evidence that individuals diagnosed with RA have a significantly lower risk of developing PD than the general population. Our data should be considered when developing or repurposing therapies aimed at modifying the course of PD.


External organisations
  • Michigan State University
  • Van Andel Research Institute
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Neurology
  • Rheumatology and Autoimmunity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-832
JournalJournal of Parkinson's Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar 3
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Shared last authorship: Åsa Torinsson Naluai and Lena Brundin