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Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, progressive systemic inflammatory disease of the synovium, a delicate membrane that lines the non-weight-bearing surfaces of the joint. Auto-immunity plays an important role in the development of RA and that increased antibody response has been shown to be a hallmark of RA. Presence of anti-CCP and anti-immunoglobulin reactivity indicates that antibody response is crucial in the development of RA.
In addition, joint specific autoantibodies targeted to autoantigens in the synovium leads to focal immune complexes, which mediate the inflammation in the joints. In fact, majority of immunoglobulin reactivity to respective unknown antigens in RA synovial fluid remains elusive.
In this regard the team developed a new methodology to decipher unknown antibody reactivity in biological fluid to respective antigen using an unbiased 2D clinical proteomics approach (Menon et al., 2011, Molecular and Cellular Proteomics). Using this approach, the team intends to identify joint specific antigens that are important in the understanding and pathogenesis of disease as well as development of new markers useful in the diagnostics of RA.
Preliminary results indicate that one could process RA tissue samples for 2D gel electrophoresis and perform far-western blots to detect synovial fluid reactivity to different proteins other than immunoglobulins. Thus the team is well poised to identify potential antigens that may serve as novel markers in RA as well as may identify important molecules that may be important in the pathogenesis of RA.