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Open Access Research article

Patients with early rheumatoid arthritis exhibit elevated autoantibody titers against mildly oxidized low-density lipoprotein and exhibit decreased activity of the lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2

Evangelia S Lourida1, Athanasios N Georgiadis2, Eleni C Papavasiliou1, Athanasios I Papathanasiou2, Alexandros A Drosos2 and Alexandros D Tselepis1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Chemistry, Laboratory of Biochemistry, University of Ioannina, 45110 Ioannina, Greece

2 Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School, University of Ioannina, 45110 Ioannina, Greece

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2007, 9:R19  doi:10.1186/ar2129

Published: 27 February 2007

Abstract

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease, associated with an excess of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality due to accelerated atherosclerosis. Oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL), the antibodies against oxLDL and the lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) may play important roles in inflammation and atherosclerosis. We investigated the plasma levels of oxLDL and Lp-PLA2 activity as well as the autoantibody titers against mildly oxLDL in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (ERA). The long-term effects of immunointervention on these parameters in patients with active disease were also determined. Fifty-eight ERA patients who met the American College of Rheumatology criteria were included in the study. Patients were treated with methotrexate and prednisone. Sixty-three apparently healthy volunteers also participated in the study and served as controls. Three different types of mildly oxLDL were prepared at the end of the lag, propagation and decomposition phases of oxidation. The serum autoantibody titers of the IgG type against all types of oxLDL were determined by an ELISA method. The plasma levels of oxLDL and the Lp-PLA2 activity were determined by an ELISA method and by the trichloroacetic acid precipitation procedure, respectively. At baseline, ERA patients exhibited elevated autoantibody titers against all types of mildly oxLDL as well as low activity of the total plasma Lp-PLA2 and the Lp-PLA2 associated with the high-density lipoprotein, compared with controls. Multivariate regression analysis showed that the elevated autoantibody titers towards oxLDL at the end of the decomposition phase of oxidation and the low plasma Lp-PLA2 activity are independently associated with ERA. After immunointervention autoantibody titers against all types of oxLDL were decreased in parallel to the increase in high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein-Lp-PLA2 activity. We conclude that elevated autoantibody titers against oxLDL at the end of the decomposition phase of oxidation and low plasma Lp-PLA2 activity are feature characteristics of patients with ERA, suggesting an important role of these parameters in the pathophysiology of ERA as well as in the accelerated atherosclerosis observed in these patients.