Preclinical rheumatoid arthritis (autoantibodies): an updated review

Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2014 May;16(5):419. doi: 10.1007/s11926-014-0419-6.


Multiple studies demonstrate that there is a period of development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) during which there are elevations of disease-related biomarkers, including autoantibodies, in the absence of and prior to the development of RA; this period can be termed 'preclinical RA'. These 'preclinical' autoantibodies including rheumatoid factor and antibodies to citrullinated protein antigens, and more recent studies have also identified additional autoantibodies and a wide range of inflammatory biomarkers. These findings in conjunction with established and emerging data about genetic and environmental risk factors for RA support a model of disease development where certain factors lead to an initial triggering of RA-related autoimmunity that expands over time to the point where symptomatic arthritis classifiable as RA develops. Herein will be reviewed updates in the field, as well as a discussion of current limitations of our understanding of preclinical RA, and potential future directions for study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Autoimmunity / immunology*
  • Biomarkers
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Rheumatoid Factor


  • Autoantibodies
  • Biomarkers
  • Rheumatoid Factor