Introduction: We and others have previously shown that antibodies against cyclic citrullinated proteins (anti-CCP) precede the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and in a more recent study we reported that individuals who subsequently developed RA had increased concentrations of several cytokines and chemokines years before the onset of symptoms of joint disease. Here we aimed to evaluate the prevalence and predictive values of anti-CCP antibodies of IgG, IgM and IgA isotype in individuals who subsequently developed RA and also to relate these to cytokines and chemokines, smoking, genetic factors and radiographic score.
Methods: A case-control study (1:4 ratio) was nested within the Medical Biobank and the Maternity cohorts of Northern Sweden. Patients with RA were identified from blood donors predating the onset of disease by years. Matched controls were selected randomly from the same registers. IgG, IgA and IgM anti-CCP2 antibodies were determined using EliA anti-CCP assay on ImmunoCAP 250 (Phadia AB, Uppsala, Sweden).
Results: Of 86 patients with RA identified as blood donors prior to the onset of symptoms, samples were available from 71 for analyses. The median (Q1 to Q3) predating time was 2.5 years (1.1 to 5.9 years). The sensitivity of anti-CCP antibodies in the pre-patient samples was 35.2% for IgG, 23.9% for IgA, and 11.8% for IgM. The presence of IgG and IgA anti-CCP antibodies was highly significant compared with controls. IgG and IgA anti-CCP2 predicted RA significantly in conditional logistic regression models odds ratio (OR) = 94.1, 95% confidence interval (CI) 12.7 to 695.4 and OR = 11.1, 95% CI 4.4 to 28.1, respectively, the IgM anti-CCP showed borderline significance OR = 2.5 95% CI 0.9 to 6.3. Concentrations of all anti-CCP isotypes increased the closer to the onset of symptoms the samples were collected with an earlier and higher increase for IgG and IgA compared with IgM anti-CCP. IgA and IgG anti-CCP positive individuals had different patterns of up-regulated chemokines and also, smoking brought forward the appearance of IgA anti-CCP antibodies in pre-RA individuals.
Conclusions: Anti-CCP2 antibodies of both the IgG and IgA isotypes pre-dated the onset of RA by years; also, both IgG and IgA anti-CCP2 antibodies predicted the development of RA, with the highest predictive value for IgG anti-CCP2 antibodies.