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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1997 Apr 5;815:296-311.

Rheumatoid factor autoantibodies in health and disease.

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Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom.


Recent advances in molecular biological and human cell hybridization technology have significantly advanced the knowledge of mechanisms that underlie human rheumatoid factor (RF) production. These advances have provided insight into the etiopathogenesis of synovial inflammation and lymphocyte recruitment in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) joints. We have examined the mechanisms that lead to RF production in RA patients and those that regulate RF production in normals. The studies revealed structural features that distinguish RF produced in normals from those produced in RA synovial tissue. There are significant differences in the use of VL and VH genes between the two RF populations. Furthermore, IgV genes encoding synovial RF in RA have extensive evidence for nucleotide changes, leading to amino acid replacement in the complementarity determining regions (CDRs). In addition, RF produced in RA synovia show evidence for affinity maturation, isotype switch to IgG RF, and repertoire shift indicative of a continued recruitment of B cells. Together with computer modeling and crystallographic studies, our data suggest that the mechanisms that operate on RF selection in RA synovia are similar to immune responses to exogenous antigens. In contrast, RF established from human immunized donors (HID) are characterized by a very low ratio of replacement to silent (R:S) nucleotide changes in the CDR1+2. In addition, there is little increase in affinity with increasing numbers of mutations. There is thus evidence for regulatory mechanisms that limit affinity maturation of RF in normals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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