“For the average person walking in off the street without any symptoms, this may not predict they’ll get the disease,” Dr. Raychaudhuri says. “But if there’s an ambiguous diagnosis, it could certainly add information.”
The next step for researchers is to understand the antigen that triggers the immune response and how it might interact with the different receptors that cause the disease. Finding a way to alter that interaction could be a potential avenue for therapy, he says.
Carrie Printz is a medical journalist based in Denver.
1. Raychaudhuri S, Sandor C, Stahl EA, et. al. Five amino acids in three HLA proteins explain most of the association between MHC and seropositive rheumatoid arthritis. Nat Genet. 2012 Jan 29. doi: 10.1038/ng.1076. [Epub ahead of print]
2. Gregerson PK, Silver J, Winchester RJ. The shared epitope hypothesis. An approach to understanding the molecular genetics of susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2005;30:1205-1213.