The prevalence of HLA-DR4 in relation to age at disease onset was calculated in 226 consecutive female patients with definite or classical rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A slight increase in the prevalence of DR4 with age at RA onset was found. This appeared to be due to the low percentage of rheumatoid factor (RF) positivity in the youngest age groups; the DR4 prevalence in the RF positive patients was constant for all decades--that is, approximately 60%. A previously reported declining trend of DR4 prevalence in women with RA in relation to age of RA onset may be due to the disease heterogeneity of the patients included in that study.
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