Anti-homocitrullinated protein antibody isotype usage in rheumatoid arthritis and their unaffected first-degree relatives
CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL RHEUMATOLOGY
Objective The majority of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients express anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA). Unaffected first-degree relatives of RA patients (FDR) also express ACPA, commonly of the IgA isotype. IgG anti-homocitrullinated/carbamylated protein antibodies (AHCPA) have been detected in both RA and FDR. It is unknown whether other isotypes are expressed. We aim to investigate the AHCPA isotype profile in unaffected FDR of RA patients. Methods The enrolled subjects were examined by a rheumatologist. FDR and healthy controls (HC) were excluded if they had swollen joints. Serum AHCPA targeting homocitrullinated fibrinogen was determined using enzyme linked immunoabsorbant assay (ELISA). FDR were genotyped for HLA-DR4 alleles encoding the shared epitope (SE). Results 125 RA (35 probands), 61 FDR and 40 HC were included. 20% of FDR expressed IgG AHCPA, compared to 30% in RA patients and 5% in HC (p=0.0010 for RA vs. HC). Levels of IgG AHCPA in FDR were similar to RA. FDR rarely expressed IgM (8%) and did not express IgA AHCPA. 20% of RA and 13% of HC subjects expressed IgM, but very few expressed IgA AHCPA (<7% in both groups). AHCPA expression in FDR was not significantly associated with joint symptoms, smoking or SE. Conclusion IgG AHCPA is the most commonly expressed isotype in RA and FDR. The significance of IgG AHCPA in FDR is unclear as it was not associated with joint symptoms or other risk factors for RA. Longitudinal studies are needed to determine whether AHCPA is meaningful in populations at risk for RA.