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Ann Rheum Dis. 2005 May;64(5):715-21. Epub 2004 Oct 7.

Raised granzyme B levels are associated with erosions in patients with early rheumatoid factor positive rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Arthritis and Rheumatism Branch, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeltal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.



Raised granzyme B in serum and synovium of patients with rheumatoid arthritis suggests a role for cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells in the pathogenesis of this disease.


To evaluate serum granzyme B in patients with early arthritis and correlate it with specific diagnosis and clinical indices of disease severity.


257 patients with inflammatory arthritis for less than one year (46% rheumatoid arthritis, 17% spondyloarthropathy, 37% undifferentiated arthritis) had a prospective clinical, serological, and radiographic evaluation. Granzyme B was measured in initial sera by ELISA. Patients were HLA typed for DR alleles using sequence specific primers. A logistic regression model was used to evaluate the potential prognostic value of serum granzyme B in predicting radiographic erosions after one year of follow up.


Granzyme B values were similar in rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthropathy, and undifferentiated arthritis. Concentrations were higher in rheumatoid factor (RF) positive patients than in RF negative patients (mean (SD): 3.15 (0.92) v 2.89 (0.71) pg/ml; p<0.05). After one year, erosions were present in 30% of patients in the overall cohort, and in 44% of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. In the entire cohort, serum granzyme B did not predict erosions independently. However, high granzyme B was an independent predictor of early erosions in patients with RF positive rheumatoid arthritis (odds ratio = 4.83 (95% confidence interval, 1.13 to 20.59)) (p<0.05).


Granzyme B may be a useful prognostic marker in early rheumatoid arthritis and may provide important clues to the pathogenesis of this disease.

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