Background: Antibodies against cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) were thought to be more specific than rheumatoid factor (RF) for the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The determination of anti-CCP in addition to RF could be helpful in the serological diagnosis and monitoring of patients with RA. Citrullination of proteins involves the enzymatic conversion of protein containing arginine residues to citrulline residues by the enzyme pep-tidylarginine deiminase (PAD). The present investigation was undertaken to estimate serum PAD enzyme activity in RA patients with a view to find its importance as a new diagnosis marker in a rheumatology clinic.
Methods: The activity of the PAD enzyme was measured by spectrophotometric method at 530 nm in sera of control subjects and in patients of RA (Group I: RF negative and CCP positive: Group II: both RF and CCP positive) in terms of citrulline formation using benzoyl-arginine ethyl ester (BAEE) as substrate. Anti-CCP and RF were also estimated in two groups by enzyme immunoassay and immunoturbidimetry for comparison. Clinical variables (duration of morning stiffness, swollen and tender joint counts, patient’s assessment of pain) and C-reactive protein were also evaluated.
Results: A marked increase in PAD enzyme activity (p <0.001) was noted in RA patients in comparison to controls and the level diminished appreciably along with two known serological markers (anti-CCP and RF) after six months of disease modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) treatment. The Group II RA patients showed much higher enzyme activity than Group I RA patients. However, clinical variables did not differ significantly between the two Groups of RA patients.
Conclusions: We conclude that determination of PAD enzyme activity may be used as an additional marker for monitoring disease progression and regression along with anti-CCP and RF in patients with RA. Moreover, this method is rapid, sensitive, and inexpensive and can be adopted in a laboratory having modest facilities.
DOI: Clin. Lab. 2011;57:1021-1025