Introduction: The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of diagnosing early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by measuring selected metabolic biomarkers.
Methods: We compared the metabolic profile of patients with RA with that of healthy controls and patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsoA). The metabolites were measured using two different chromatography-mass spectrometry platforms, thereby giving a broad overview of serum metabolites. The metabolic profiles of patient and control groups were compared using multivariate statistical analysis. The findings were validated in a follow-up study of RA patients and healthy volunteers.
Results: RA patients were diagnosed with a sensitivity of 93% and a specificity of 70% in a validation study using detection of 52 metabolites. Patients with RA or PsoA could be distinguished with a sensitivity of 90% and a specificity of 94%. Glyceric acid, D-ribofuranose and hypoxanthine were increased in RA patients, whereas histidine, threonic acid, methionine, cholesterol, asparagine and threonine were all decreased compared with healthy controls.
Conclusions: Metabolite profiling (metabolomics) is a potentially useful technique for diagnosing RA. The predictive value was without regard to the presence of antibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptides.