Bone and Joint Institute


Serum cytokine profile of unaffected first-degree relatives of patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Document Type


Publication Date



Journal of Rheumatology





First Page


Last Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier



Objective. Various cytokines have been implicated in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and it is known that elevations in multiple cytokines occur prior to disease onset. The objective of our study is to determine whether the cytokine profile in unaffected first-degree relatives (FDR) of patients with RA is distinct from healthy controls. Methods. The sera of patients with RA, their unaffected FDR, and healthy controls were measured for 27 cytokines using a luminex-based multiplexed immunoassay. Subjects were also tested for rheumatoid factor and 6 different anticitrullinated protein/peptide antibodies (ACPA). Discriminant analysis was performed to define the cytokine profile of the 3 study groups. Results. Fourteen patients with RA, 37 unaffected FDR, and 27 healthy controls were enrolled. All patients with RA and 49% of FDR were ACPA-positive. Patients with RA had elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines compared to FDR and controls. Lower interleukin 13 (IL-13) levels were independently associated with RA. IL-4 was significantly lower in FDR compared to controls. Using discriminant analysis based on the levels of all cytokines measured, RA, FDR, and healthy controls could be distinguished with 91% accuracy. ACPA-positive subjects had higher levels of IL-9, but lower levels of IL-12p70 and macrophage inflammatory protein-1β. No individual cytokine was associated with ACPA-positivity in FDR, but the entire cytokine profile accurately distinguished ACPA-positive from ACPA-negative FDR. Conclusion. The cytokine profiles of patients with RA, healthy controls, unaffected ACPA-positive FDR, and ACPA-negative FDR appear to be distinct. (First Release Jan 15 2014; J Rheumatol 2014;41:280-5; doi:10.3899/jrheum.130539). © The Journal of Rheumatology Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.


Article is freely available from the journal