Increased levels of peptidylarginine deiminase 2 in synovial fluid from anti-CCP-positive rheumatoid arthritis patients: Association with disease activity and inflammatory markers

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Objective. To quantify peptidylarginine deiminase 2 (PAD2) in SF of RA patients and OA patients, and to determine the association between PAD2 levels, disease activity and inflammatory markers in RA.

Methods. Blood and SF samples were obtained from 39 RA patients and 40 patients with OA. PAD2 content and PAD activity were measured by means of in-house assays. TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10 and IL-12 were measured using flow cytometry.

Results. PAD2 levels and PAD activity were higher in SF from RA than OA patients (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.03, respectively), as were all cytokine levels (P < 0.0001–0.05). SF PAD2 levels were higher among anti-CCP-positive patients than among anti-CCP-negative patients (P = 0.005). PAD2 levels in SF from RA patients correlated with disease activity, as assessed by DAS28 (P < 0.005). Moreover, SF PAD2 levels correlated with circulating CRP and anti-CCP levels (P < 0.0006), as well as with leucocyte count, IL-6, IL-8 and IL-10 levels in SF (P < 0.0001–0.02). PAD activity in SF was higher in RA patients than in OA patients, and correlated with PAD2 concentration.

Conclusion. Extracellular PAD2 levels in SF correlate with disease activity in RA patients. Anti-CCP-positive RA patients have higher PAD2 levels in SF than anti-CCP-negative RA patients and OA patients. Since we could demonstrate enzymatically active PADs in SF, we propose that free, extracellular PAD is of pathogenic relevance.

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