Objective: To examine the allelic association of the single nucleotide polymorphism (CTLA4A/G) in exon 1 of the cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA4) gene with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: One hundred and twenty-three unrelated white probands with early RA from the north-east of England and 349 local ethnically matched controls were studied. The CTLA4A/G polymorphism was genotyped with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method and digestion with the restriction enzyme Bst71I. Probands were also screened by allele-specific PCR for alleles HLA DRB1*01 and DRB1*04.
Results: The frequency of the G allele at CTLA4A/G was significantly increased in probands with early RA compared with controls [43 vs 36%; P=0.028, odds ratio (OR) 1.35, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01-1.82]. Most of this increased frequency was attributable to RA individuals with coexisting autoimmune thyroid disease or type 1 diabetes (58 vs 36% in controls; P=0.005, OR 2.50, CI 1.29-4.84). The frequency of the G allele in RA patients without autoimmune endocrinopathy was 40%, which was not significantly different from that in controls (P=0.140).
Conclusion: The association between the CTLA4 G allele and early RA is largely explained by individuals with RA who have coexisting autoimmune endocrinopathies.