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Ann Rheum Dis. Jul 2002; 61(7): 603–607.
PMCID: PMC1754168

Rheumatoid factor measured by fluoroimmunoassay: a responsive measure of rheumatoid arthritis disease activity that is associated with joint damage


Objectives: To determine whether rheumatoid factors (RFs), measured as continuous variables by time resolved fluoroimmunoassay, reflect disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Further, to study the association of RFs and other disease activity parameters with radiological joint damage, especially in individual patients.

Methods: In active, early RA, IgM and IgA RFs, as well as erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C reactive protein (CRP), tender joint score, and swollen joint score were assessed regularly. At the study start and at 56 and 80 weeks, radiographs of hands and feet were assessed by the Sharp score (van der Heijde modification). Associations between RFs and disease activity parameters were studied. In addition, associations between radiographic damage and disease activity parameters (baseline and time integrated) were analysed by non-parametric tests and multiple regression analysis. The relation between time integrated disease activity parameters and radiological damage in individual patients was analysed and visualised.

Results: 155 patients were included. RF levels were strongly associated with the disease activity parameters (especially ESR and CRP) and with each other. All disease activity parameters, at baseline as well as time integrated parameters, were associated with (the progression of) radiographic damage. Moreover, in individual patients, a linear relationship between time integrated disease activity parameters and progression of radiological damage was seen.

Conclusion: RFs, measured as continuous variables, can be considered as disease activity parameters in patients with RA. The level of RF at baseline and the exposure to RF over time is associated with radiological damage. In individual patients, there is a constant relation between disease activity and radiological damage.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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Figures and Tables

Figure 1
Pattern of changes over time of laboratory based disease activity parameters. Aggregated result of all patients receiving combination treatment (sulfasalazine, methotrexate, and prednisolone). IgM and IgA RF, IgM and IgA rheumatoid factor; ESR, erythrocyte ...
Figure 2
Pattern of changes over time of laboratory based disease activity parameters. Aggregated result of all patients receiving sulfasalazine treatment. IgM and IgA RF, IgM and IgA rheumatoid factor; ESR, erythrocyte sedimentation rate; CRP, C reactive protein. ...
Figure 3
Individual relation between exposure to disease activity (time integrated IgM rheumatoid factor (IgM RF)) and radiological damage (Sharp score, modification van der Heijde (SHS)). Every patient has his/her own line, composed of the consecutive six month ...
Figure 4
Relation between exposure to disease activity and radiological damage in the individual patient. The slope of the curve (α ) is individually constant but can vary between patients.

Articles from Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases are provided here courtesy of BMJ Group


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