Objective: The Sa autoantigen can be found in inflamed synovium of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and at least part of the humoral RA-specific anti-Sa response is directed against citrullinated vimentin. This study was undertaken to evaluate the sensitivity, specificity, and prognostic value of determination of levels of antibodies against modified citrullinated vimentin (anti-MCV) as compared with antibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptides (anti-CCP) in an inception cohort of patients with early RA.
Methods: Clinical data, radiographs, and measurements of levels of anti-MCV and anti-CCP antibodies were obtained in 273 patients with early RA at baseline, after 3 months, and after 1, 2, 3, and 5 years. Autoantibodies were also analyzed in 100 healthy controls.
Results: Of the 273 patients, 193 (70.7%) were anti-MCV positive and 158 (57.9%) were anti-CCP positive at the time of diagnosis, with nearly equal specificities (95% and 96%, respectively). Forty (14.7%) were anti-MCV positive only, and 5 (1.8%) were anti-CCP positive only. Anti-MCV-positive and anti-MCV-negative patients had similar disease activity at baseline, but presence of anti-MCV was predictive of subsequent high disease activity and continued radiographic progression. Changes in anti-MCV level showed stronger correlation with changes in clinical parameters than did changes in anti-CCP level. The subgroup of patients who were anti-MCV positive and anti-CCP negative showed a higher rate of radiographic destruction than did patients who were negative for both anti-MCV and anti-CCP.
Conclusion: These findings show that when patients with early RA are compared with healthy controls, analysis of anti-MCV yields greater sensitivity and unchanged specificity as compared with analysis of anti-CCP. Anti-MCV also appears to perform better than anti-CCP in identifying poor radiographic prognosis in patients with early RA.