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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Survivin but not Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand is up-regulated before the onset of rheumatoid arthritis: a pilot study

Maria Bokarewa1, Mikael Brink2, Malin Erlandsson1 and Solbritt Rantapää Dahlqvist2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research, Göregorg University, Box 480, SE-40530, Göteborg, Sweden

2 Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicin/Rheumatology, Umeå University, SE-90185, Umeå, Sweden

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2014, 16:R45  doi:10.1186/ar4474

Published: 5 February 2014

Abstract

Introduction

Antibodies against citrullinated peptides (anti-CCP) and increased levels of cytokines precede the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by several years. Recently, the proteins survivin and Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand (Flt3L) have been identified as biomarkers of RA associated with joint destruction. Our objective was to investigate the potential of survivin and Flt3L as predictors of RA in samples from patients prior to onset of symptoms.

Methods

This study included 47 individuals sampled before onset of RA (median 2.5 years (IQR 4.5) and 155 matched controls, all were donors to the Medical Biobank of Northern Sweden, and 36 RA patients. Levels of anti-CCP, survivin and Flt3L were measured using ELISAs and 29 cytokines/chemokines by multiplex detection.

Results

Levels of survivin were increased in pre-symptomatic individuals compared with controls (P = 0.003), whilst the levels of Flt3L were similar. The frequency of survivin positivity in the pre-symptomatic individuals was increased compared with the controls (36.2 vs.14.2%, P = 0.001) and predicted disease development (odds ratio (OR) =3.4 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.6-7.2)). The frequency of survivin and Flt3L in RA patients was increased compared with the controls (both, P <0.0001, OR = 12.1 (95% CI, 5.3-27.6) and OR = 11.0 (95% CI, 3.9-30.9), respectively). Anti-CCP positive pre-symptomatic individuals and patients had significantly higher levels of survivin compared with anti-CCP2 negative individuals. In pre-symptomatic individuals, survivin correlated with IL-12, IL-1β and IL-9 whereas Flt3L correlated to a significantly broader spectrum of cytokines in RA patients.

Conclusion

Proto-oncogene survivin was increased in individuals prior to onset of symptoms of RA and was correlated to cytokines suggesting its role at pre-clinical stages of the disease.