Objectives: To evaluate the association of anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibodies with immunoglobulin (Ig) M and IgA rheumatoid factors (RF) in discriminating between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other rheumatic diseases, and to determine, in a longitudinal study, whether clinical signs of disease severity are associated with the presence of these autoantibodies at the time of patient inclusion.
Methods: The presence of these three markers was determined in 196 patients with established RA, 239 non-RA controls with various rheumatic diseases (cross-sectional study) and in 27 patients with arthritis of less than 1 yr disease duration who were subsequently followed during about 8 yr (longitudinal study). At the time of follow-up, 21 of these 27 patients had RA. They were further evaluated and several clinical variables were recorded.
Results: The specificity was significantly increased (from 82-90% to 98% in the cross-sectional study) when the combination of anti-CCP antibodies with IgA RF or the combination of the three serological markers was used. An association was observed between the presence of the three autoantibodies and clinical signs of disease severity (functional disability, presence of erosions and absence of clinical remission).
Conclusions: The presence either of anti-CCP antibodies and IgA RF or of the three markers appears to be useful in the diagnosis of RA. Their association with clinical signs of disease severity at the time of patient inclusion suggests their potential usefulness as markers for prognosis.