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Anti-citrullinated protein antibodies acquire a pro-inflammatory Fc glycosylation phenotype prior to the onset of rheumatoid arthritis
  1. Yoann Rombouts1,
  2. Ewoud Ewing2,
  3. Lotte A van de Stadt3,
  4. Maurice H J Selman2,
  5. Leendert A Trouw1,
  6. André M Deelder2,
  7. Tom W J Huizinga1,
  8. Manfred Wuhrer2,
  9. Dirkjan van Schaardenburg3,4,
  10. René E M Toes1,
  11. Hans U Scherer1
  1. 1Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands
  2. 2Center for Proteomics and Metabolomics, Leiden University Medical Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands
  3. 3Jan van Breemen Research Institute | Reade, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Rheumatology, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr H U Scherer, Department of Rheumatology, Leiden University Medical Centre, P.O. Box 9600 Leiden 2300 RC, The Netherlands; h.u.scherer{at}


Objective To determine whether anticitrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA) exhibit specific changes in Fc glycosylation prior to the onset of arthritis.

Methods Serum samples of patients with ACPA-positive arthralgia (n=183) were collected at baseline and at various time points of follow-up. 105 patients developed arthritis after a median of 12 months (IQR 6–24) and were classified as having either rheumatoid arthritis (RA, n=48) or undifferentiated arthritis (UA, n=57) based on the 1987 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria. ACPA and total serum IgG were isolated by affinity purification and cleaved by trypsin. ACPA-IgG1 Fc-glycopeptides were subsequently analysed by nano-liquid chromatography mass spectrometry and compared to those of total IgG1.

Results At baseline, ACPA-IgG1 and total IgG1 from arthralgia patients displayed similar Fc glycosylation patterns. By contrast, at the onset of arthritis, ACPA exhibited a decrease in galactose residues in RA patients, but not in UA patients. This decrease occurred around 3 months prior to diagnosis and was paralleled by an increase in systemic inflammation (erythrocyte sedimentation rate). Galactosylation of total IgG1 was also decreased in RA, but this did not precede the onset of arthritis. Interestingly, we additionally noted a higher degree of ACPA-IgG1 Fc core fucosylation at baseline as compared with total IgG1, which further increased prior to diagnosis.

Conclusions ACPA display significant changes in Fc galactosylation and fucosylation prior to the onset of RA. These changes towards a more pro-inflammatory phenotype could be involved in driving the disease process.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Autoantibodies
  • Inflammation
  • Ant-CCP

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