To measure rheumatoid factors specific for patients with rheumatoid arthritis an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was developed to measure rheumatoid factors in human serum that bind a cross-reactive determinant shared on human and other mammalian IgG. Rheumatoid factors that cross link human IgG and sheep IgG in a double binding ELISA were almost completely specific (greater than 99%) for rheumatoid arthritis in assays of 108 sera from patients with rheumatoid arthritis compared with 231 sera from patients with other connective tissue diseases and 365 sera from healthy subjects and patients without these diseases. Moreover, positive tests occurred primarily in patients with active arthritis (r = 0.68). In contrast, these rheumatoid factor autoantibodies were not detected in sera from most of the patients with other autoimmune diseases, including patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. These results show that rheumatoid factors identified in human sera by the double binding test are specific for active rheumatoid arthritis.
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