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Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2011 Jun 7;7(7):391-8. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2011.76.

Anti-CCP antibodies: the past, the present and the future.

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Department of Biomolecular Chemistry, Nijmegen Centre for Molecular Life Sciences, Institute for Molecules and Materials, Radboud University, PO Box 9101, NL-6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands. w.vanvenrooij@


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibodies against citrullinated antigens. The importance of citrulline for the epitopes bound by these autoantibodies, referred to as ACPA (anti-citrullinated peptide/protein antibodies), was first described in 1998. In addition to citrullinated proteins, cyclic citrullinated peptides (CCP) can also be used as test substrates for detecting ACPA. The standard test for these antibodies is the second-generation CCP (CCP2) test, which is one of the best in terms of sensitivity and specificity. The generation of ACPA is an early event in the disease course, and is dependent on the presence of certain MHC class II alleles. ACPA in the inflamed synovium have been shown to associate with citrullinated antigens to form immune complexes, resulting in progression of the inflammatory process. The involvement of ACPA in the chronicity of RA is probably the reason why ACPA-positive patients have a more erosive disease course than ACPA-negative patients. The presence of ACPA has been included in the 2010 RA classification criteria. Thus, it is important to further standardize ACPA testing, for example by including an internal serum standard, which may lead to a better distinction between low and high ACPA levels.

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