The diagnosis of RA is based on the symptoms described and physical examination findings such as warmth, swelling and pain in the joints. Certain blood levels commonly found in RA can help in establishing a diagnosis. Tell-tale signs include:
- Anemia - a low red blood cell count.
- Rheumatoid factor - an antibody eventually found in approximately 80% of patients with RA, but in as few as 30% at the start of arthritis.
- Antibodies to cyclic citrullinated peptides or CCP.
- Elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate or "sed rate" - a blood test that, in most patients with RA, tends to confirm the amount of inflammation in the joints.
Robert H. Carter, MD
Autoantigen-specific B cells in Rheumatoid Arthritis
In RA, B cells make antibodies that can react with the body’s own tissues creating local inflammatory reaction and tissue destruction. By identifying and analyzing the B cells that produce these antibodies, Dr. Carter will try to understand how the antibodies are formed and how they escape the mechanisms the body has that normally prevents the production of them.
David M. Lee, MD, PhD
IgG Glycosylation and Rheumatoid Arthritis
This project will investigate the usefulness of a new laboratory tests by measuring a natural modification of antibodies—in this study the antibody is glycosylation—in patients with RA. If the test proves useful, it will aid in early diagnosis of the disease or in helping predict disease severity. It may also predict which patients will respond to specific medications.
Antony Rosen, MD
Anti-PADI4 Immune Responses in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Markers of Disease Propagation
Dr. Rosen and his colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have found that anti–PAD-4 antibodies are highly specific markers of RA and appear to be useful markers of disease severity. The findings of this project may help to define and monitor a critical event occurring in early RA, which causes the disease to amplify. By indentifying the specific mechanisms during this critical event, researchers may be able to create a novel approach to prevent early RA from progressing.