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Ann Rheum Dis. 2011 Mar;70 Suppl 1:i55-8. doi: 10.1136/ard.2010.138032.

Anti-citrullinated protein antibodies in rheumatoid arthritis: a functional role for mast cells and basophils?

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Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Leiden, The Netherlands.

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease characterised by chronic inflammation of the joints. Anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA) are highly specific for RA and are associated with a more severe disease progression. ACPA have also been shown to have a pathological role in RA. In animal models of RA, ACPA enhances arthritis. Furthermore, in vitro generated immune complexes with ACPA can activate macrophages and the complement system in the human system. Recently, a direct functional and specific response of FcεRI+ immune cells towards citrullinated proteins was demonstrated. Basophils of ACPA+ RA patients are activated by citrullinated proteins that cross link the FcεRI receptor via IgE-ACPA, physiologically bound to the receptor. In addition, synovial mast cells from ACPA+ RA patients show a more activated phenotype than mast cells from ACPA- patients. These findings underline the suggestion that ACPA+ and ACPA- RA are two different disease entities and point to a possible functional role of ACPA and FcεRI+ cells in the pathogenesis of RA.

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