Objective Anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA) are highly specific for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but the diagnostic accuracy of ACPA in the general population has not been thoroughly assessed. We aimed to assess the diagnostic accuracy of ACPA for RA in the general population and to further characterise the citrullinated peptide recognition pattern.
Methods Serum samples from a large population-representative twin cohort consisting of 12 590 individuals were analysed for the presence of ACPA using anti-CCP2 ELISA. All ACPA-positive samples were further tested on ELISAs for four peptide-specific ACPA. RA cases were identified by linkage to the Swedish National Patient Register at inclusion and after a median follow-up of 37 months (IQR 31–49).
Results 350 out of 12 590 individuals had a positive anti-CCP2 test, measuring ACPA. Of these, 103 had an RA diagnosis at the time of blood donation and inclusion. During a median follow-up of 3 years, an additional 21 of the remaining 247 ACPA-positive individuals developed RA. Overall, a positive anti-CCP2 test had a positive predictive value of 29% for prevalent RA at inclusion (negative predictive value of 99.6%). High titres (>3× cut-off) of anti-CCP2 increased the positive predictive value to 48% (negative predictive value of 99.5%). ACPA-positive individuals without RA had lower anti-CCP2 titres and fewer peptide-specific ACPA than ACPA-positive patients with RA and higher C reactive protein levels than ACPA-negative individuals without RA.
Conclusion Presence of ACPA and especially high titres of anti-CCP2 have a high diagnostic accuracy for an RA diagnosis in a population setting.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis