Cognitive decline refers to a deterioration of intellectual and learning abilities and related memory problems, and is often associated with behavioral alterations, which prevents sufferers from carrying out the most common daily activities, such as maintaining normal productive interpersonal relationships, communicating, and leading an autonomous life. Numerous studies have highlighted the association between cognitive decline and autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease that involves systems and organs other than the bones and joints, with varying severity among patients. Here, we review the studies investigating the link between cognitive decline and RA, focusing on the main molecular pathogenetic mechanisms involved. The emerging body of data suggests that clinical, psychological, and biological factors may contribute to the pathogenesis of cognitive decline in RA, including cardiovascular complications, chronic pain, depression, inflammatory factors, changes in hormone levels, drug side effects, and genetics. Further studies are warranted in order to fully clarify the basis underlying the association between cognitive decline and RA and to find new possible diagnostic strategies and therapeutic targets for RA patients.
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