International study results may provide insight into genetics and their ability to reveal how different environmental exposures can trigger the onset of different forms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  The study reportedly encompassed a team at the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Genetics and Genomics at The University of Manchester, part of a large international consortium involving scientists from across 15 academic institutions.

A recent news release from Medical News Today indicates that it is known a proportion of RA patients test positive for autoantibodies, while about 30% remain sero-negative. To this end, researchers sought to better define the genetic distinction between two disease subtypes that included sero-positive and sero-negative RA.

The release reports the researchers have established different genetic variants of a protein that plays a key role in how the body’s immune system fights infection, are linked with the two forms of RA. Researchers add that this might provide further insight into the theory that exposure to different infectious agents, such as bacteria or viruses, trigger different forms of RA in susceptible individuals.

“We recognize that rheumatoid arthritis is a complex disease that can have variable presentation and outcomes for different people, in particular in the way they respond to treatment. These findings add to our ability to genetically define subtypes of rheumatoid arthritis, which is an important step towards selecting the best treatment for each patient,” explains Steve Eyre, PhD, the genetics and genomics centre in Manchester.

Now that the researchers have established a genetic basis for the two types of RA, says Jane Worthington, PhD, professor and centre director, “We hope it will lead to patients receiving a swifter, accurate diagnosis and more appropriate, targeted treatment. These findings have opened the door to a better understanding of sero-negative rheumatoid arthritis.”

Source(s): Medical News Today, Arthritis Research UK