Research Update: Osteoimmunology


Linking autoantibody production to bone loss

in rheumatoid arthritis

Inflammation of the synovium in a joint affected by 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.

Continue reading

Heart Disease Risk in RA: Obviously, Common Assessment Tools are Insufficient


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!).

Warenign sign. Elderly people crossing.

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. Continue reading

Research Update: Atherosclerosis and Autoimmunity


The long Arm of the Dendritic Cells: The Link between Atherosclerosis and Autoimmune Diseases

Inflammation has been closely linked to autoimmunogenic processes in atherosclerosis. In fact, patients who are suffering from an autoimmune disease have an increased incidence of “hardening of the arteries”, concretely atherosclerosis (the spelling “arteriosclerosis” is also common). In the case of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) the patients have a 30 to 60% higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke!

picture shows a beating heart

It is an accepted fact: Rheumatoid arthritis patients have a higher risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. But where is the connection between the two types of disease?

pDCs: the link between atherosclerosis and autoimmunity

Now clinical researchers at Munich Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) have uncovered a mechanism which establishes a causal link between the two types of disease. The immunological process may help to explain the link between autoimmunity and atherosclerosis.

The mechanism described is provided by a specific class of immune cells called plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). The pDCs respond to DNA released from damaged and dying cells by secreting interferon proteins. The research, which is done in collaboration with scientists from Rudolf Virchow Center at Wuerzburg University, shows that stimulation of pDCs by a specific DNA-protein complex contributes to the progression of atherosclerosis. These findings may have implications for new strategies for the treatment of a whole spectrum of conditions that are associated with chronic inflammatory reactions. Continue reading

Welcome to the ACPA Club


Anti-CCP hs (high sensitive)®: a new biomarker for the serological diagnosis of early rheumatoid arthritis

ACPA for RA diagnosticsTimely diagnosis is of critical importance to the progression of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) because the rapid implementation of intensive treatment can inhibit damage to the joints and maintain function. In conjunction with medical history, clinical examination, and imaging procedures, serological tests form the foundation for an early diagnosis.

In addition to rheumatoid factors, autoantibodies against citrullinated antigens (ACPA) have proven to be valuable tools for the serological diagnosis of early RA. They have become a critical component of the new 2010 ACR criteria for the classification of RA, and account for three of the six points required to verify a diagnosis of RA. Continue reading

Why Are Autoimmune Diseases More Common in Women than Men?


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. Continue reading