OBJECTIVES--Hyperphosphatasaemia has been observed occasionally in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and it has been suggested that the serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) level is related to the activity of the disease. Therefore, the relationship between serum ALP and RA was studied. METHODS--The serum activities of hepatobiliary enzymes (ALP isoenzymes, gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase (GTP), leucine aminopeptidase (LAP), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and alanine aminotransferase (ALT)), immunoglobulins, RA haemagglutinin test (RAHA), C reactive protein (CRP), and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) were observed in 288 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. RESULTS--Serum biliary ALP (ALP1) activity was detected in 31.6% of the patients. In patients positive for ALP1 the respective values of total ALP (ALPt) (p < 0.001), liver ALP (ALP2) (p < 0.001), bone ALP (ALP3) (p < 0.05), gamma-GTP (p < 0.001), LAP (p < 0.001), immunoglobulins IgG (p < 0.01), IgA (p < 0.01), and IgM (p < 0.01), RAHA (p < 0.001), CRP (p < 0.001), ESR (p < 0.001), and articular index (p < 0.001) were significantly higher than in patients who did not have ALP1. Significant Spearman's rank correlations (rs) were demonstrated between serum ALP2 level and the respective values of ALPt (rs = 0.9128, p < 0.001), ALP1 (rs = 0.4443, p < 0.001), ALP3 (rs = 0.5898, p < 0.001), gamma-GTP (rs = 0.2903, p < 0.001), LAP (rs = 0.3093, p < 0.001), IgA (rs = 0.2299, p < 0.01), IgM (rs = 0.1773, p < 0.05), RAHA (rs = 0.2420, p < 0.01), CRP (rs = 0.3532, p < 0.001), ESR (rs = 0.4006, p < 0.001). the articular index (rs = 0.4006, p < 0.001). However, no significant difference or correlation was noted for either AST or ALT. In many patients who showed abnormal hyperphosphatasaemia, hepatobiliary enzyme dissociation was observed: levels of ALPt (in 12.8%), ALP1 (in 31.6%), ALP2 (18.8%), gamma-GTP (in 4.3%), and LAP (in 19.3%) were abnormally high, but both AST and ALT were within normal limits. CONCLUSION--These findings are considered to be characteristic of RA, and suggest the existence of latent or subclinical hepatobiliary involvement and an association between the expansion of hepatobiliary involvement and the mechanism of disease activation. Thus measurement of the serum levels of ALP and its isoenzymes in RA is considered to be important.
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