Swedish scientists recently published a study in the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) journal Arthritis and Rheumatism in which they tested blood samples of individuals prior to being diagnosed with RA and compared them with a control group.[i] They found significantly higher levels of inflammatory cytokines in people who were later diagnosed with RA. The researchers noted,
Individuals in whom RA later developed had significantly increased levels of several cytokines, cytokine-related factors, and chemokines representing the adaptive immune system; after disease onset, the involvement and activation of the immune system was more general and widespread.
Perhaps research like this could lead to the development of screening tests for individuals who may be at higher risk of developing RA. Such tests could help lead to early identification and treatment for those who get RA.
These researchers were also able to hone in on the cytokines that may play a role in initiating RA. Interestingly, the levels of various cytokines changed over time as diagnosis occurred and as the disease progressed. They noted that later in disease progression, the notorious cytokine TNF is not as abundant as earlier. This finding may have implications for the popular TNF blocker biological medicines like Enbrel and Humira.