The development of rheumatoid factor (RF) and/or anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPAs) can be observed years prior to clinical diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Nevertheless, the interaction between these two autoantibodies and their combined effect on development of RA is unclear. We measured RF, cytokines, and ACPA subtypes in serial pre-clinical serum samples collected from 83 US veterans who all developed RA. Levels of cytokines and ACPAs were compared between the following groups: anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP)-/RF- (double negative), anti-CCP+/RF-, anti-CCP-/RF+, or anti-CCP+/RF+ (double-positive). The double-positive subgroup had significantly higher levels of 20 inflammatory cytokines and 29 ACPA reactivities, and the shortest interval, 1.3 years, between the preclinical sample timepoint and diagnosis of RA. Thus, the combined presence of ACPAs and RF is associated with a more rapid progression to RA, suggesting that anti-CCP+/RF+ individuals have a more advanced preclinical disease state and that the onset of RA may be imminent.
- Anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA)
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Rheumatoid factor (RF)