Rheumatoid factor and anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies in the general population: hepatitis B and C virus association and 15-year-risk of rheumatoid arthritis

Elena Generali, Maria De Santis, Natasa Isailovic, Bianca Palermo, Giacomo Maria Guidelli, Angela Ceribelli, Fausto Alborghetti, Guido Colloredo, Luisa Porrati, Torsten Matthias, Alberto Zucchi, Carlo Selmi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: The study aimed to determine the prevalence of rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-citrullinated peptides (ACPA), to estimate the association with hepatitis B (HBV) or C (HCV) virus infections and the 15-year risk of developing RA in a large cohort from a Northern Italian region.

METHODS: In 1998, 15,907 subjects between the ages of 18 and 75 were randomly selected 1:4 for HBV and HCV testing; more recently, we tested a subgroup of sera for RF (n=2196) and ACPA (n=2525). Administrative databases were searched after 15 years for incident RA diagnoses occurring between 1998 and 2013.

RESULTS: RF was positive in 8.1% of cases with 10% of RF-positive subjects having HBsAg (p=0.004) and 9% anti-HCV. ACPA were detected in 4.8% of subjects with 5% of the ACPA-positive subjects having HBsAg and 5.9% anti-HCV. Older subjects had higher positivity rates for both RF and ACPA. HBsAg and anti-HCV were detected in 5.5% and 4.3% of sera, respectively. Over 15 years, 10 RA cases were recorded (9 women, median age at diagnosis 52 years) with RF previously positive in 2/10 and ACPA in 5/10 cases. RF and ACPA were associated with relative risks for developing RA of 5.7 (adjusted for HBsAg status; 95% CI 1.2-26.3) and 13.2 (95% CI 3.8-46.3), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data in a large cohort from an unselected general population confirm a higher risk of RA development associated with ACPA compared to RF. HBV exposure correlates with RF but not with ACPA positivity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical and Experimental Rheumatology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Dec 18 2020

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