Raised circulating concentrations of asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), an endogenous inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), have been reported in several rheumatic diseases (RDs). However, the strength of this relationship is unclear. Therefore, the aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the magnitude and the robustness of the association between ADMA concentrations and RDs. We calculated standardized mean differences (SMD, with 95% confidence intervals, CI). Study heterogeneity was evaluated by meta-regressions and sensitivity analyses according to type of RDs, conventional cardiovascular risk factors, inflammatory markers, and type of ADMA assessment methodology. Thirty-seven studies with a total of 2,982 subjects (1,860 RDs patients and 1,122 healthy controls) were included in our meta-analysis. Pooled results showed that ADMA concentrations were significantly higher in patients with RDs than in healthy controls (SMD = 1.27 µmol/L, 95% CI 0.94–1.60 µmol/L; p < 0.001). However, the between-studies heterogeneity was high. Differences in ADMA concentrations between controls and RDs patients were not significantly associated with inflammatory markers, increasing age, lipid concentrations, body mass index, blood pressure, or methodology used to assess ADMA. Furthermore, subgroup analysis showed no difference across RDs. This meta-analysis showed that, in the context of significant between-study heterogeneity, circulating concentrations of ADMA are positively related to RDs.
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- rheumatic diseases