Presence of anticitrullinated protein antibodies in a large population-based cohort from the Netherlands

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Abstract

Objectives

To determine the prevalence of anticitrullinated protein antibodies (ACPAs) and their association with known rheumatoid arthritis (RA) risk factors in the general population.

Methods

Lifelines is a multidisciplinary prospective population-based cohort study in the Netherlands. Cross-sectional data from 40 136 participants were used. The detection of ACPA was performed by measuring anti-CCP2 on the Phadia-250 analyser with levels ≥6.2 U/mL considered positive. An extensive questionnaire was taken on demographic and clinical information, including smoking, periodontal health and early symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders. RA was defined by a combination of self-reported RA, medication use for the indication of rheumatism and visiting a medical specialist within the last year.

Results

Of the total 40 136 unselected individuals, 401 (1.0%) had ACPA level ≥6.2 U/mL. ACPA positivity was significantly associated with older age, female gender, smoking, joint complaints, RA and first degree relatives with rheumatism. Of the ACPA-positive participants, 22.4% had RA (15.2% had defined RA according to our criteria and 7.2% self-reported RA only). In participants without RA, 311 (0.8%) were ACPA-positive. In the non-RA group, older age, smoking and joint complaints remained significantly more frequently present in ACPA-positive compared with ACPA-negative participants.

Conclusions

In this large population-based study, the prevalence of ACPA levels ≥6.2 U/mL was 1.0% for the total group and 0.8% when excluding patients with RA. Older age, smoking and joint complaints were more frequently present in ACPA-positive Lifelines participants. To our knowledge, this study is the largest study to date on ACPA positivity in the general, mostly Caucasian population.

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