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Relationship between air pollution and positivity of RA-related autoantibodies in individuals without established RA: a report on SERA
  1. Ryan W Gan1,
  2. Kevin D Deane2,
  3. Gary O Zerbe1,
  4. M Kristen Demoruelle2,
  5. Michael H Weisman3,
  6. Jane H Buckner4,
  7. Peter K Gregersen5,
  8. Ted R Mikuls6,
  9. James R O'Dell7,
  10. Richard M Keating8,
  11. V Michael Holers2,
  12. Jill M Norris1
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, Colorado, USA
  2. 2Division of Rheumatology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, Colorado, USA
  3. 3Division of Rheumatology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA
  4. 4Translational Research, Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, Seattle, Washington, USA
  5. 5Robert S Boas Center for Genomics and Human Genetics, Feinstein Institute Medical Research and North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, Manhasset, New York, USA
  6. 6Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, Omaha VA and University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
  7. 7Department of Internal Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
  8. 8Section of Rheumatology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jill M Norris, Department of Epidemiology, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Colorado School of Public Health, Campus Box, B119, 13001 East 17th Place, Aurora, CO 80045, USA; jill.norris{at}


Introduction Studies suggest that respiratory exposures including smoking, proximity to traffic and air pollution might be associated with development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA-related autoantibodies are predictive of the development of RA.

Objective We evaluated the relationship between RA-related autoantibodies and exposure to particulate matter (PM), a measure of air pollution of interest to health, in individuals without RA.

Methods The Studies of the Etiology of Rheumatoid Arthritis (SERA) is a multicentre study following first-degree relatives (FDRs) of a proband with RA. FDRs are without the 1987 ACR (American College of Rheumatology) classifiable RA at enrolment and are followed for the development of RA-related autoimmunity. RA-related autoantibody outcomes as well as tender and swollen joint outcomes were assessed. Exposure to PM was assigned using ambient air pollution monitoring data and interpolated with inverse distance weighting spatial analyses using Geographic Information Systems. PM exposures were linked to FDR's residential zip codes.

Results RA-related autoantibodies as well as tender or swollen joints are not associated with ambient PM concentrations.

Discussion While other respiratory exposures may be associated with increased risk of RA, our data suggest that ambient PM is not associated with autoantibodies and joint signs among individuals without RA, but at increased risk of developing RA.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Autoimmunity
  • Autoantibodies
  • Epidemiology
  • Rheumatoid Factor
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