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Biomed Pharmacother. 2006 Dec;60(10):648-55. Epub 2006 Oct 10.

Autoantibodies in rheumatoid arthritis: a review.

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School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Beech Hill Rd, Sheffield S10 2RX, UK.


Emerging insights into the importance of B cells in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as highlighted by the efficacy of B cell depletion is one factor that has contributed to the upsurge of interest in the potential role of autoantibodies both as disease markers and with respect to a pathogenic role. Since the initial description of rheumatoid factor (RF), a large number of both disease-specific and non-specific autoantibodies have been described in patients with RA including antibodies to type II collagen (CII), immunoglobulin binding protein (BiP) and antibodies directed at citrullinated peptides (anti-CCP) and other citrullinated proteins such as vimentin (anti-Sa) . Despite some overlap the serological profile of RA does appear to be distinct from other diseases such as SLE . Although the precise mechanisms responsible for the formation of these antibodies have not been well defined their presence must reflect the interaction between T and B cells believed to be relevant to the pathogenesis of RA. The specificity of the association of such factors as anti-CCP and anti-BiP with RA may reflect unique pathogenic events leading to the processing and presentation of the "cryptic self" . Ease of measurement and stability make autoantibodies attractive diagnostic and prognostic markers particularly in early disease when it may be difficult to distinguish self-limiting synovitis from persistent disease . The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the current state of knowledge of the spectrum of autoantibodies thus far characterised in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, and discuss their diagnostic, prognostic and pathogenetic relevance.

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