SRL Analysis: Women more at risk of rheumatoid arthritis than men

All adults irrespective of age are equally at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Anti-cyclic citrullinated protein (aCCP) is a better test for rheumatoid arthritis than Rheumatoid factor (RF)

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New Delhi: An analysis on diagnostic tests for Rheumatoid arthritis done over the last three years at its laboratories, has affirmed that women are more at risk of rheumatoid arthritis than men. The analysis was done by SRL Diagnostics specifically on reports of 4567 samples which were referred for a comprehensive list of tests recommended in the disease.

The analysis further showed that positivity for rheumatoid arthritis tests did not increase with age in adults as is the case with other kinds of arthritis such as osteoarthritis. Essentially, an individual over the age of 25 is as susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis as a 45 year old or 65 year old.

Rheumatoid arthritis refers to an autoimmune disease, wherein one’s own immune system starts attacking various joints in the body. SRL conducts a panel of tests which include the four major indicators:

  1. Rheumatoid factor (RF)- A common indicator to detect rheumatoid arthritis

  2. Anti-cyclic citrullinated protein (aCCP)- Recent biomarker which detects rheumatoid arthritis with better clarity

  3. Antinuclear antibodies (ANA)- It is used to detect the presence of an auto-immune disease

  4. C-reactive protein (CRP) – It is used to check the severity of an inflammatory disease including an auto-immune disease

Interestingly, it is clear that the test for rheumatoid factor is not conclusive towards diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis and therefore the test for Anti-cyclic citrullinated protein (aCCP), is prescribed nowadays in suspected rheumatoid arthritis to get better clarity.

The SRL analysis revealed that of the total samples referred for suspected Rheumatoid Arthritis, 18.5% tested positive for both RF and aCCP, confirming a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis in these cases. Women had more percentage positivity of RF and aCCP (27% and 26%), as compared to men (25% and 22%).

Only 18% of the patients who were positive for aCCP were less than 15 years of age. However, in that age bracket, ANA levels were found to be highest at 60%.

“Patients, who tested positive for RF and aCCP in the age groups of 15-45 years and above 45 years, were more or less similar at 27% and 26%, respectively. This data indicates this autoimmune arthritis does not necessarily have an age related progression, unlike Osteoarthritis. It is a disease of the adults.” Dr BR Das, Advisor and Mentor – Research & Development from SRL Diagnostics said.

Dr B R Das further added, “Anti-CCP is the latest biomarker which is used to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. It has a much better specificity for the disease diagnosis as compared to rheumatoid factor. Even if RF testing turns out to be negative, anti-CCP test can show Rheumatoid Arthritis. From this perspective, it is always recommended that one should get a whole panel of tests done to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis to eliminate all possibilities of false positives or negatives.”

Of the entire sample, 15% tested positive for both RF and aCCP, while 9% samples tested positive for all three auto-antibodies – RF, aCCP and ANA. 4% of samples tested positive for RF when aCCP was negative, whereas only 3% samples tested positive for aCCP when RF was negative.