MADRID – The glucagonlike peptide–1 receptor agonist liraglutide appears to be effective for keeping weight off following an intensive weight-loss program in patients with knee osteoarthritis, according to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial presented at the European Congress of Rheumatology.
However, even though the 8-week intensive dietary program led to substantial weight loss and significant improvement in pain, additional weight loss of nearly 2.5 kg over 52 weeks of daily liraglutide treatment did not translate into more pain control.
According to study author, this is the first randomized trial to test the ability of liraglutide to provide a sustained weight loss in OA patients. The Food and Drug Administration indication for liraglutide is as an adjunct to diet and exercise for glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Thecompared liraglutide against placebo in patients who had completed an intensive weight-control program in which the median loss was 12.46 kg. They were followed for 52 weeks.
At the end of follow-up, patients in the placebo group had gained a mean of 1.17 kg while those randomized to liraglutide lost an additional 2.76 kg. The between-group difference of 3.93 kg was statistically significant (P = .008).
“We believe that liraglutide is a promising agent for sustained weight loss in OA patients,” concluded Dr. Kristensen, a clinical researcher in rheumatology in the Parker Institute at Bispebjerg-Frederiksberg Hospital in Copenhagen.
In the single-center study, 156 patients were enrolled and randomized. In an initial 8-week diet intervention undertaken by both groups, an intensive program for weight loss included average daily calorie intakes of less than 800 kcal along with dietetic counseling. Patients were monitored for daily activities.
The majority of patients achieved a 10% or greater loss of total body weight during the intensive program before initiating 3 mg of once-daily liraglutide or a placebo.
Over the course of 52 weeks, the attrition from the study was relatively low. Among the 80 patients randomized to liraglutide, only 2 were lost because of noncompliance. Another 12 participants left the study before completion, 10 of whom did so for treatment-associated adverse effects. In the placebo arm, four patients were noncompliant, four left for treatment-associated adverse effects, and five left for other reasons.
Following the 8-week intensive dietary program, there was 11.86-point improvement in the pain subscale of the Knee and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score, confirming a substantial symptomatic benefit from this degree of weight loss. While this improvement in pain score was sustained at 52 weeks in both groups, the additional weight loss in the liraglutide arm did not lead to additional pain control.
The lack of additional pain control in the liraglutide group was disappointing, and the reason is unclear, but Dr. Kristensen emphasized that the persistent improvement in pain control was a positive result. In patients who are overweight or obese, regardless of whether they have concomitant OA, weight loss is not only difficult to achieve but difficult to sustain even after a successful intervention.
Dr. Kristensen reported financial relationships with multiple pharmaceutical companies. The trial received funding from Novo Nordisk.
SOURCE: Kristensen LE et al. Ann Rheum Dis. Jun 2019;78(Suppl 2):71-2.