Increased risk of osteoarthritis in patients with atopic disease 

Objectives To determine the incidence of osteoarthrits (OA) in patients with atopic disease compared with matched non-exposed patients.

Methods We conducted a retrospective cohort study with propensity score matching using claims data from Optum’s de-identified Clinformatics Data Mart (CDM) (January 2003 to June 2019) and electronic health record data from the Stanford Research Repository (STARR) (January 2010 to December 2020). We included adult patients without pre-existing OA or inflammatory arthritis who were exposed to atopic disease or who were non-exposed. The primary outcome was the development of incident OA.

Results In Optum CDM, we identified 117 346 exposed patients with asthma or atopic dermatitis (mean age 52 years; 60% female) and 1 247 196 non-exposed patients (mean age 50 years; 48% female). After propensity score matching (n=1 09 899 per group), OA incidence was higher in patients with asthma or atopic dermatitis (26.9 per 1000 person-years) compared with non-exposed patients (19.1 per 1000 person-years), with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of 1.58 (95% CI 1.55 to 1.62) for developing OA. This effect was even more pronounced in patients with both asthma and atopic dermatitis compared with non-exposed patients (aOR=2.15; 95% CI 1.93 to 2.39) and in patients with asthma compared with patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (aOR=1.83; 95% CI 1.73 to 1.95). We replicated our results in an independent dataset (STARR), which provided the added richness of body mass index data. The aOR of developing OA in patients with asthma or atopic dermatitis versus non-exposed patients in STARR was 1.42 (95% CI 1.36 to 1.48).

Conclusions This study demonstrates an increased incidence of OA in patients with atopic disease. Future interventional studies may consider targeting allergic pathways for the prevention or treatment of OA.