Leucine-rich α2 -glycoprotein as a potential biomarker for joint inflammation during anti-interleukin-6 biologic therapy in rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis Rheumatol. 2015 May;67(8):2056-60. doi: 10.1002/art.39164.


Objective: To investigate whether leucine-rich α2 -glycoprotein (LRG) could be a biomarker for disease activity during interleukin-6 (IL-6) blockade treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: In 59 RA patients who were treated with tocilizumab for 24 weeks, serum LRG levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. RA disease activity was evaluated by the Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was used to examine the diagnostic performance of LRG and other biomarkers. In monkeys with experimental autoimmune arthritis, swollen joint counts, joint pathologic changes, and blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) and LRG were evaluated after treatment with anti-IL-6 receptor antibody.

Results: Among tocilizumab-treated RA patients, those with active disease (CDAI >2.8) had significantly higher serum LRG levels compared to those whose disease was in remission. ROC curve analysis suggested that the LRG level was more useful than the CRP or matrix metalloproteinase 3 level or the erythrocyte sedimentation rate in discriminating between remission and active disease during therapy with tocilizumab. In monkeys treated with IL-6 blockade, joint scores were more closely correlated with LRG levels than with CRP levels. Histologic analysis of joints revealed that LRG levels correlated significantly with granulomatous tissue formation, cartilage degeneration, and bone destruction in IL-6 blockade-treated monkeys with low levels of CRP.

Conclusion: Under conditions of IL-6 inhibition, LRG was more useful than other biomarkers in discriminating between active and inactive disease in human RA and in detecting joint inflammation in experimental arthritis. LRG may serve as a convenient biomarker for RA disease activity during IL-6 blockade treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Glycoproteins
  • IL6R protein, human
  • LRG1 protein, human
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • tocilizumab