Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an auto-immuneinflammatory disease. People with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have higher levels of inflammatory proteinscalled cytokinesand other cytokine related factors in their blood. According to a recent studythose markers are present as many as three years before any RA symptoms emerge.
Previous studies have shown that other markers exist several years before the onset of symptoms of RA. These include certain antibodiessuch as rheumatoid factor and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) antibodies.
The current studyconducted by Heidi KokkonenMScof Umea University Hospital in Swedenand colleaguesincluded data from 85 RA patients from a population based registry in Northern Sweden. These patients had donated blood samples before the onset of their RA symptoms. Each of these patients was matched with three randomly selected controls from the same registry based on sexagewhere they lived and the time of the blood sample.
The researchers found that 50 of the 85 patients had higher levels of the cytokines than the controls. They also found the same evidence for the cytokine related factors.
In additionthe researchers also found that there was a significant relationship between the elevated levels of cytokines and the presence of anti-CCP antibodies.
These results could lead to the development of a blood test for early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
“Our findings present an opportunity for better predicting the risk of developing RA and possibly preventing disease progression.”
Researcher Solbritt Rantapää-DahlqvistMDof University Hospital in UmeaSweden.
The authors of the study acknowledged that there were statistical limitations in the analysisparticularly in terms of power and the potential effects of storage time of the samples.
The results of the study were published in the February issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism