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Investigating the Mechanisms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Researchers examine possible molecular mechanisms for rheumatoid arthritis in a paper published earlier in the year: "Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic autoimmune inflammatory and destructive joint disorder that affects tens of millions of people worldwide. Normal healthy joints maintain a balance between the synthesis of extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules and the proteolytic degradation of damaged ones. In the case of RA, this balance is shifted toward matrix destruction due to increased production of cleavage enzymes and the presence of (autoimmune) immunoglobulins resulting from an inflammation induced immune response. Herein we demonstrate that a polyclonal antibody against the proteoglycan biglycan (BG) causes tissue destruction that may be analogous to that of RA affected tissues. The effect of the antibody is more potent than harsh chemical and/or enzymatic treatments designed to mimic arthritis-like fibril de-polymerization. ... The specific antigen that causes the RA immune response has not yet been identified, although possible candidates have been proposed, including collagen types I and II, and proteoglycans (PG's) such as biglycan. We speculate that the initiation of RA associated tissue destruction in vivo may involve a similar non-enzymatic decomposition of collagen fibrils via the immunoglobulins themselves that we observe here ex vivo."

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0032241

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