Towards Early diagnosis and biomarker validation in Arthritis Management
EuroTEAM Arthritis (Towards Early diagnosis and biomarker validation in Arthritis Management) is a challenging research project, funded by the European Union with 5.77 Million Euro for four years. Clinicians and lab scientists with world class expertise in rheumatoid arthritis research from 13 renowned European research institutions and three industrial partners with competence in design and development of diagnostic test kits for autoimmune diseases, local gene therapy for rheumatic diseases, and human genome analysis join their efforts in the discovery of novel biomarkers for early detection of rheumatoid arthritis. The EuroTEAM members intend to develop approaches to predict the onset of rheumatoid arthritis in people who do not yet have the disease. Ultimately, this will help in the development of treatments to prevent people from getting rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid factor (RF) is one of the best known serological markers in rheumatology – development of the test dates back into the 1940ies. Since this time the toolkit of serological diagnostic tests for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been complemented by the more specific anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA) tests. However, none of the various ACPA tests has completly replaced RF until now.
The jigsaw puzzle of rheumatoid arthritis classification
In contrast, the significance of RF has been further substantiated with the definition of the 2010 ACR criteria for classification of RA. Moreover, recent studies have shown the potential of RF as a contributor to disease pathogenesis.
Inflammatory rheumatic diseases predominantly affect women. This also includes many young women who would like to have children or who have not yet completed their family planning when they are first diagnosed. These women do not need to give up on their desire to have children forever. Women with rheumatic disease tend to have fewer children than other women, and it often takes them longer to achieve a desired pregnancy. Today, carefully monitored medical treatment and close collaboration between the rheumatologist and the gynaecologist give these women the opportunity to bring a healthy child into the world.
Recently, a new study has identified a couple of biomarkers that may predict disease progression in patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis (or: AS for short), an autoimmune disease also called Morbus Bechterew.
The German study describes key inter-group differences between different types of AS patients, which may predict the progression of structural damage in the spine. In the future awareness of such differences will help physicians to stratify patients due to risk. Hence, the results may pave the way for developing specific treatment options for this autoimmune disorder.
New treatment options on the horizon
In the more recent past, several biomarkers have been described to be associated with radiographic spinal progression and syndesmophyte formation in Bechterew’s disease. However, it is not clear, whether these biomarkers are also able to predict new bone formation in AS patients.
Linking autoantibody production to bone loss
in rheumatoid arthritis
Autoantibodies against citrullinated proteins (ACPA) are found in people with rheumatoid arthritis and are one of the strongest risk factors for bone destruction in this disease. A recent study now directly links the formation of antibodies binding to mutated citrullinated vimentin (anti-MCV) to bone loss in rheumatoid arthritis, indicating that these autoantibodies act on osteoclasts, the bone cells responsible for bone resorption.
Harre U, Georgess D, Bang H, Bozec A, Axmann R, Ossipova E et al. Induction of osteoclastogenesis and bone loss by human autoantibodies against citrullinated vimentin. J Clin Invest 2012; 122(5):1791-802. (1)
The research of U. Harre, G. Schett and their coworkers provides fundamental new insights into the interaction between bone and the immune system in the inflammatory process leading to the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
Since the early 1960s almost a dozen different criteria for Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) have been published, both for classifying and for diagnosing that autoimmune disease. Recently, an international team of rheumatologists has published new classification criteria for Sjögren’s syndrome. In the April issue of the Arthritis Care & Research journal the authors propose clear and carefully worded guidelines.
Without question, these “new 2012 classification criteria for Sjögren’s syndrome” are urgently needed to better support etiologic and genetic research and therapeutic trials for Sjögren’s syndrome. Indeed, the new criteria are the first to be based solely on objective clinical tests!
Many other criterions have permitted various testing subjectivity to enable the classification of the disorder. In consequence, subjectivity has made standardisation of clinical trial inclusion something of a moving target, limiting comparability of research data across studies and impeding the needed robust clinical evaluation of possible new treatments. But criteria used for enrollment into clinical trials need to be clear, be easy to apply. And the new 2012 criteria agree to that demand. (more…)
In rheumatoid arthritis, standard heart disease risk tools underrate danger!
Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, or RA for short, are at higher risk for heart disease. Among experts that’s a matter of common knowledge (fortunately and increasingly that is basic knowledge among patients, too!).
Watch out, doctors! – In elderly rheumatoid arthritis patients commonly used heart disease risk assessment tools regularly fail, according to a current study. – © Robbie Ribeiro
On a less positive note, commonly used heart disease risk assessment tools seem to be inadequate for estimating the risk of cardiovascular disease danger faced by RA patients. That is what a brand-new study found.
In this blog article I summarise the main results of the research done at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota (USA). The study is entitled Usefulness of Risk Scores to Estimate the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis, and it has been published online on 20th April 2012 in The American Journal of Cardiology.
Heart disease risk in RA: More accurate assessment tools needed
The study estimated the accuracy of the Framingham and Reynolds risk scores, two tools commonly used by physicians for assessing patients’ heart disease danger. The scientists found that these two assessment tools substantially underrated cardiovascular disease danger both in women and men suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. In particular, that happens in older patients. Interestingly enough, it also happens in people who test positive for rheumatoid factors. (more…)
No matter if it’s rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or multiple sclerosis (MS): most autoimmune diseases affect women significantly more often than men. It is possible that this could be at least partially explained by the occurrence of age-associated B cells (ABCs), as described in an article recently published in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology. (more…)
According to a recent study, a new biomarker may make it possible to make a prognosis regarding the progression of the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
The results of the study, which was carried out at the University of Munich Clinics, were recently published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, The EULAR Journal. At the centre of this study lies an analysis of the cell hormone interleukin-22, IL-22, and its significance as a prognostic marker for RA. The researchers examined the relationship between the serum levels of interleukin-22 and the risk of bone erosion and joint damage in RA patients. (more…)
Antibodies to Modified Citrullinated Vimentin Are Associated with Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Early Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with increased morbidity and mortality due to cardiovascular disease (CVD), especially accelerated atherosclerosis (1-3). There is evidence that this already occurs early in the disease process. Well known common CVD risk factors interact with the systemic auto-inflammatory response during the disease process and speed up the development of atherosclerosis in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.
Antibodies against citrullinated protein and peptide antigens (ACPA) are highly sensitive and specific markers for early rheumatoid arthritis. Antibodies to Modified Citrullinated Vimentin (anti-MCV) predict poor outcome and appear to play a major role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis.
A recently published study by Amal El-Barbary and his co-workers may now shed light on the relationship between anti-MCV antibodies and cardiovascular co-morbidities in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (4). They investigated the correlation of anti-MCV antibodies in early RA with disease activity and cardiovascular risk factors compared to antibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptides (anti-CCP3). (more…)