The interrelationships between P blood group phenotype, proteus antibodies and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were investigated in 140 patients with RA and 114 of their siblings who did not have RA. In the group with RA P2 subjects had significantly higher titres of proteus antibodies than P1 patients. This was not observed in the group without RA, or for antibodies to Escherichia coli. Although C reactive protein was the best predictor of proteus antibodies in the group with RA, the P blood group had an independent and significant influence. These observations suggest a testable model in which asymptomatic carriage of proteus in the urinary tract may lead to antibody production, which in turn may be important in the pathogenesis of RA.
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