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When and where does rheumatoid arthritis begin?

Joint, bone, spine : revue du rhumatisme | 28 Nov 2012

T Schaeverbeke, ME Truchetet and C Richez
Abstract
The major strides accomplished in elucidating the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have translated into therapeutic breakthroughs in clinical practice. However, currently available treatments work only for as long as they are taken. The development of curative treatments will probably require a better understanding of the earliest phases of RA and perhaps the identification of the etiological factors, which are probably numerous. These objectives are being pursued in studies of preclinical RA. The literature review presented herein indicates that the immunological conflict probably originates outside the joints, at mucous membrane sites and, more specifically, in the upper aerodigestive tract. The preclinical phase of RA can last for many years, and some patients probably never progress to arthritis. An immunological conflict develops then spins out of control, causing increases in autoantibody titers and subsequently in levels of serum markers for inflammation, before the development of the first joint symptoms. Improved knowledge of the preclinical phase, together with information from genetic markers, will allow the identification of profiles associated with susceptibility to RA and perhaps, in the future, the development of preventive strategies.
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Concepts
Phase, Mucous membrane, Rheumatoid factor, Philosophy of science, Rheumatology, Osteoarthritis, Medicine, Rheumatoid arthritis
MeSH headings
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