Review: Genetics and the Classification of Arthritis in Adults and Children

Arthritis Rheumatol. 2018 Jan;70(1):7-17. doi: 10.1002/art.40350. Epub 2017 Dec 1.


Current classification of primary inflammatory arthritis begins from the assumption that adults and children are different. No form of juvenile idiopathic arthritis bears the same name as an adult arthritis, a nomenclature gap with implications for both clinical care and research. Recent genetic data have raised questions regarding this adult/pediatric divide, revealing instead broad patterns that span the age spectrum. Combining these genetic patterns with demographic and clinical data, we propose that inflammatory arthritis can be segregated into 4 main clusters, largely irrespective of pediatric or adult onset: seropositive, seronegative (likely including a distinct group that usually begins in early childhood), spondyloarthritis, and systemic. Each of these broad clusters is internally heterogeneous, highlighting the need for further study to resolve etiologically discrete entities. Eliminating divisions based on arbitrary age cutoffs will enhance opportunities for collaboration between adult and pediatric rheumatologists, thereby helping to promote the understanding and treatment of arthritis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arthritis / classification*
  • Arthritis / genetics
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Male