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Ann Rheum Dis. 2010 Jun;69(6):1077-85. doi: 10.1136/ard.2009.120170. Epub 2010 Mar 16.

Cumulative association of 22 genetic variants with seropositive rheumatoid arthritis risk.

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75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Recent discoveries of risk alleles have made it possible to define genetic risk profiles for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This study examined whether a cumulative score based on 22 validated genetic risk alleles for seropositive RA would identify high-risk, asymptomatic individuals who might benefit from preventive interventions.


Eight human leucocyte antigen (HLA) alleles and 14 single-nucleotide polymorphisms representing 13 validated RA risk loci were genotyped among 289 white seropositive cases and 481 controls from the US Nurses' Health Studies (NHS) and 629 white cyclic-citrullinated peptide antibody-positive cases and 623 controls from the Swedish Epidemiologic Investigation of Rheumatoid Arthritis (EIRA). A weighted genetic risk score (GRS) was created, in which the weight for each risk allele is the log of the published odds ratio (OR). Logistic regression was used to study associations with incident RA. Area under the curve (AUC) statistics were compared from a clinical-only model and clinical plus genetic model in each cohort.


Patients with GRS >1.25 SD of the mean had a significantly higher OR of seropositive RA in both NHS (OR=2.9, 95%CI 1.8 to 4.6) and EIRA (OR 3.4, 95% CI 2.3 to 5.0) referent to the population average. In NHS, the AUC for a clinical model was 0.57 and for a clinical plus genetic model was 0.66, and in EIRA was 0.63 and 0.75, respectively.


The combination of 22 risk alleles into a weighted GRS significantly stratifies individuals for RA risk beyond clinical risk factors alone. Given the low incidence of RA, the clinical utility of a weighted GRS is limited in the general population.

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