Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis: an early marker of progressive erosive disease

Arthritis Rheum. 2000 Jun;43(6):1371-7. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(200006)43:6<1371::AID-ANR22>3.0.CO;2-R.


Objective: To evaluate the clinical associations of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA) in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA), as well as the possible predictive role of ANCA. We also assessed the overlap of ANCA with other specific serologic markers of RA.

Methods: Eighty-two RA patients with symptoms for < or = 12 months were studied for the presence of ANCA by immunofluorescence and specific enzyme immunoassays. ANCA were determined and clinical, radiographic, and laboratory data were collected at study entry and later at 12, 36, 60, and 84 months.

Results: In 2 patients, the first serum samples (obtained at study entry) were no longer available for the determination of ANCA. Perinuclear ANCA (pANCA) were found in 40 patients (50%), and atypical cytoplasmic ANCA were found in 3 patients (4%) at study entry. Perinuclear ANCA-positive patients were significantly more frequently positive for rheumatoid factor (78%) than were ANCA-negative patients (54%) (P = 0.0297). Fifty-five percent of pANCA-positive patients and 22% of ANCA-negative patients were positive for antiperinuclear factor (P = 0.0044). Similarly, pANCA-positive patients had antikeratin antibodies more frequently than did ANCA-negative patients (35% versus 20%). During a 7-year followup, the progress of radiographic joint destruction, assessed with Larsen scores, was significantly more rapid in patients who were pANCA positive at study entry than in those who were ANCA negative (P = 0.0015). Also, the mean titer of pANCA at study entry was significantly higher in those patients who subsequently had advanced radiographic joint destruction at 60 and 84 months. The association of pANCA with rapid radiographic destruction in patients with early RA was further corroborated by a logistic regression analysis that selected pANCA positivity as an independent and statistically significant predictor of rapid radiographic joint destruction.

Conclusion: In patients with early RA, pANCA are associated with specific serologic markers of RA and predict rapid radiographic joint destruction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies / analysis
  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic / analysis*
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / analysis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Arthrography
  • Biomarkers
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Keratins / immunology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis


  • Antibodies
  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Biomarkers
  • antiperinuclear factor
  • Keratins