This review describes how studies on interactions between genetic variants, and environmental factors, mainly smoking, contribute to the understanding of how autoimmunity to post-translationally (citrullinated) proteins/peptides may occur and potentially contribute to certain subsets of rheumatoid arthritis. A main message is that studies on specific immune mechanisms in a complex and heterogeneous disease like RA should be undertaken with the help of results from genetic epidemiology. By those means, it may be possible to identify subsets of RA in a way that in the end allows development and testing of precise and subset-specific interventions against environment as well as genetically defined molecular pathways, in particular those that regulate specific immune responses.
Copyright © 2011. Published by Elsevier Ltd.