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New Blood Test for early detection of Rheumatoid Arthritis

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According to a new study reported in The Journal of Rheumatology, a novel biomarker for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has significant potential to help physicians better identify early-stage disease, when treatment can often arrest further disease progression and disability.

Researchers from Quest Diagnostics DGX, and other institutions found that elevated blood-serum levels of the 14-3-3eta protein outperformed conventional antibody-serum testing, including rheumatoid factor (RF) and anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies (ACPA, also known as antibodies to cyclic citrullinated peptides or CCP), for the identification of RA.

In the study, 64% of patients with early RA were positive for 14-3-3eta, compared to 59% and 57% for either ACPA or RF, respectively. When results of all three markers were assessed, 78% of patients with early-stage RA (3.4 months) and 96% of patients with established RA (11.5 years) were identified. This compares to 72% of patients with early-stage RA and 88% of patients with established RA identified by just RF and/or ACPA. Physicians often consider results of separate RF and ACPA test results to aid the diagnosis of RA.

The study also found that 14-3-3eta was more sensitive at detecting patients whose early blood test results by RF and ACPA were negative. In these “seronegative” patients, 14-3-3eta positively identified 21% of patients with early RA and 67% with established RA. Seronegativity in both early and established RA is a major limitation of RF and ACPA, as it can delay initiation of treatment.

An early diagnosis of RA has been a challenge for clinicians because symptoms are often subtle and can be similar to those of other autoimmune disorders. Diagnosis and initiation of treatment of RA within 12 weeks of symptom onset – referred to by the study authors as the “window of opportunity for therapy intervention” – can help prevent joint damage and improve long-term function and patient prognosis.

Additional key findings from the study:

The association of 14-3-3eta with identification of early RA may reflect a more severe phenotype of disease. The study found that 14-3-3eta positive patients had significantly worse disease based on clinical measures when compared to 14-3-3eta negative patients.

14-3-3eta serum levels were higher in individuals with early and established RA, compared to healthy individuals and those in all control groups, suggesting the biomarker may help discriminate patients with RA from those with certain other autoimmune diseases as well as healthy patients.

The differential diagnosis between osteoarthritis and early RA is often difficult for primary practitioners. Serum 14-3-3eta levels were significantly higher in patients with early RA than in patients with osteoarthritis, suggesting 14-3-3eta results may help primary care physicians identify patients for referral to a rheumatologist.

14-3-3eta serum levels were significantly higher in patients with erosive psoriatic arthritis (PsA) compared to nonerosive PsA, an autoimmune disease.

“Our finding that the 14-3-3eta protein is elevated in RA and to a lesser extent in erosive PsA, but not in other inflammatory diseases, offers clinical utility for physicians because test results can help lead to a differentiated diagnosis,” said Stanley J. Naides, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.R., medical director, Immunology R&D, Quest Diagnostics and one of the study’s authors.

“Additionally, the correlation between 14-3-3eta positivity and disease onset and severity may assist clinicians in personalizing the best course of treatment for the patient.”

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This web site is run by an Arthritis Specialist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On this site you will find news about the latest in arthritis, information about research results in the field, tips and information and diet and exercise, and much more.

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This web site is run by an Arthritis Specialist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On this site you will find news about the latest in arthritis, information about research results in the field, tips and information and diet and exercise, and much more.

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