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Does genetic anticipation occur in familial rheumatoid arthritis?
  1. C Deighton,
  2. P Heslop,
  3. J McDonagh,
  4. D Walker,
  5. G Thomson
  1. Department of Integrative Biology, University of California at Berkeley 94720.


    OBJECTIVE--To determine if there is evidence for genetic anticipation in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by analysing the possibility that parental disease status and age at proband conception influence the age of onset and disease severity of the proband. METHOD--RA outpatients were identified and data were also taken from Newcastle multicase RA pedigrees. Comparisons of age of onset and parental age at proband conception were made for pedigrees grouped according to the disease status of the parents. Correlation coefficients and linear regression models were calculated for the age of RA onset in the probands. Measures of disease severity were compared in RA mother-proband pairs. RESULTS--The results were similar in both the outpatient (n = 153) and multicase pedigree (n = 15) samples. Significant results were confined to pedigrees in which the mother had RA (20 of the outpatient probands and seven of the multicase group). Probands in these sibships had a younger age of RA onset than their affected mothers (38.3 years (95% confidence interval (CI) 33.8 to 42.8) versus 53.7 (47.3 to 60.0) (p = 0.002) in the outpatient sample; 32.4 years (25.3 to 39.6) versus 43.4 years (29.0 to 57.9) (p = 0.1) in the multicase pedigrees). In the maternal RA group, both the maternal and paternal age at proband conception showed significant negative correlations (r = -0.65, p = 0.002 and r = -0.60, p = 0.005, respectively in the outpatient sample) and linear regression coefficients with age of proband disease onset. In seven affected mother-proband pairs, the probands had a tendency to more severe disease, despite shorter disease duration and younger age. CONCLUSIONS--This preliminary analysis has suggested that within pedigrees in which the mother has RA, the features of genetic anticipation and observations consistent with premutation models may prevail.

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