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Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2011 Jul-Aug;29(4):689-92. Epub 2011 Sep 1.

Soluble macrophage-derived CD163 is a marker of disease activity and progression in early rheumatoid arthritis.

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Institute of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark.



To investigate the expression of the soluble form of the resident macrophage marker CD163 (sCD163) and its association with core parameters for disease activity, including radiographic progression in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


In a longitudinal sample set from early RA patients (n=34) we measured plasma levels of sCD163 at initiation of treatment and after 9 months of treatment and correlated levels with disease activity in 28 joints (DAS28), C-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and total Sharp score (TSS). We also measured plasma levels of sCD163 in 55 healthy volunteers (HV) and in a transverse sample set of chronic (>8 years of disease) RA patients (n=24) and OA patients (n=24) with paired plasma and joint fluid.


Early RA patients had significantly higher plasma levels of sCD163 (1.69mg/l (1.42-2.10)) (median (IQR)) at baseline than after 9 months of treatment (1.28mg/l (0.963-1.66), p=0.001), but not significantly changed compared with HV (1.66mg/l (1.22-2.02)). In early RA patients, baseline levels of sCD163, correlated with DAS28, CRP and ESR. Interestingly, sCD163 at 9 months was associated with radiographic progression (TSS) between year 0 and 5 (r=0.468, p=0.02). Levels of sCD163 were higher in RA patients, than in OA patients and higher in SF than in plasma.


Plasma levels of macrophage derived sCD163 are associated with disease activity and predict radiographic progression in early RA patients, supporting that sCD163 may have a role as a biomarker of disease activity and that resident macrophages are important for joint destruction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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