Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) which is often considered as one disease may be two different medical conditions, according to a new study. Some people are likely to have autoantibodies in their blood whereas other patients lack them, based on these two sub-types it is possible that the outcome of the Rheumatoid arthritis is different in different patients.
The findings of this research are now published in the journal PLOS Medicine.
Dr. Xanthe Matthijssen from the Leiden University Medical Center is the lead researcher and first author of this study. He says that there are high chances that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has two sub-types with patients with or without having autoantibodies.
This disease is common in middle to old age patients. But even with the timely diagnosis and treatment, only a limited number of people respond to the treatment and get better. These people are those having autoantibodies while others, lacking it don’t get any better.
Autoantibodies are similar to antibodies that the immune system produces. But the autoantibodies are released in case of a defective immune system.
These autoantibodies production causes severe inflammation inside the body and targets healthy body growth. When a person has rheumatoid arthritis (RA), his immune system identifies his healthy joints cells as defective and attack them.
The research from previous years makes it clear that both subtypes of RA have some differences. Based on this evaluation, those who don’t have the RA linked autoantibodies in their blood are called autoantibody-negative RA.
The differences based on RA autoantibodies may put a person to various long-term disabilities, no response to the treatment, and delayed recovery. The researchers analyzed 1,285 patients having RA during 1993 to 2016. Their data was obtained from the Leiden Early Arthritis Clinic study.
The period between these years, the information on their symptoms, response to treatment, and deaths were obtained on annual basis. The study also noted which patient was RA autoantibodies positive and negative.
Out of all these patients, nearly 823 people were autoantibody-positive RA. The other 462 participants were RA autoantibody-negative.
But in those negative and positive groups, the onset of symptoms gradually decreased in passing years. However, the remission rate was significantly increased, without using medicines in the autoantibody-positive patients and wasn’t observed in the autoantibody-negative patients.
This loss of connection between disease activity and the long-term effects in RA patients suggest that the response to treatment of RA in both categories of patients is somewhat different.
The study authors suggest that it would be the right thing to categorize RA into two sub-types; one with autoantibodies (type 1) and without autoantibodies (type 2).
Most research on RA focuses on the autoantibody-positive patients completely ignoring that there are other patients too for which their proposed suggestions and treatment plans may not work the same way. Research on the autoantibody-negative patients will help medical practitioners to identify new methods and medicines to improve their condition.