Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Environmental Exposures
Gut Bacteria
Sleep Disorders


Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis. It's likely that rheumatoid arthritis occurs as a result of a complex combination of factors, including your genes, your lifestyle choices, such as smoking, and things in your environment, such as viruses. MayoClinic.

Interleukin-20 is triggered by toll–like receptor ligands (TLR) and associates with disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Our data showed that IL-20 is independently associated with RA disease activity and may be triggered by TLR ligands at local sites of inflammation. PubMed, Cytokine, 2017 Sep;97:187-192. (Also see Interleukins)

The role and therapeutic targeting of IL-6 in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The prospects for future applications, new therapeutic strategies of IL-6 targeting therapy and relevant issues with regard to the clinical management of IL-6 blockade in RA are discussed. PubMed, Expert Rev Clin Immunol, 2017 Jun;13(6):535-551. (Also see Interleukins)

Serum level of DNase1l3 in patients with dermatomyositis/polymyositis (DM/PM), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and its association with disease activity. A significant reduction was found in serum DNase1l3 level in DM/PM and SLE, which may associate with clinic features and disease activity. PubMed, Clin Exp Med, 12/30/2016. (Also see Dermatomyositis and Polymyositis and Research on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)

Influence of TNF–α inhibition on oxidative stress of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. The results of our study demonstrate that a good control of the disease with anti–TNF–α agents can reduce oxidative stress in RA patients. Rheumatismo, 02/11/2016.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) function in rheumatoid arthritis. Additional studies will be valuable to consolidate existing data and find consensus and also studies evaluating the impact of various HDL functions on cardiovascular disease in RA are needed. PubMed, Curr Opin Lipidol, 2016 Feb;27(1):67-75.

Pathogenesis and prevention of rheumatic disease: focus on preclinical rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This review focuses on the preclinical stages of RA and SLE, as our current understanding of these diseases can be used to present an overall model of the development of autoimmune rheumatic diseases that might ultimately be used to develop screening programmes and preventive strategies. PubMed, Nat Rev Rheumatol, 2014 Feb 11. (Also see Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Causes)


Autoantibodies (AAbs) against interleukin-21 correlate with disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The levels of AAbs against IL-21 correlate with disease activity, which suggests that anti–IL-21 AAbs may play a role in the pathogenesis of RA. PubMed, Clin Rheumatol, 10/10/2017. (Also see Interleukins)

Prevalence, sensitivity and specificity of antibodies against carbamylated proteins in a monocentric cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune rheumatic diseases. The present study extends the knowledge of anti–CarP antibodies, confirming previous data on the diagnostic accuracy of anti–CarP in RA in a large cohort of Italian patients. BioMed Central, Arthritis Research & Therapy, 11/25/2016.

Increased circulating anti–α6–integrin autoantibodies in psoriasis (Ps) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) but not in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This study shows the presence of anti–α6–integrin antibodies in Ps and PsA but not in RA, which could indicate ongoing abnormal processes in the skin. PubMed, J Dermatol, 10/28/2016. (Also see Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis)

Phenome–wide association study (PheWAS) of autoantibodies to citrullinated and non–citrullinated epitopes in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). PheWAS identified potential significant links between variations in levels of autoantibodies and comorbidities of interest in RA. PubMed, Arthritis Rheumatol, 10/28/2016.

Environmental Exposures

Textile workers at higher risk for rheumatoid arthritis. Breathing textile dust on the job is linked to an almost tripled risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, a Malaysian study suggests. Reuters Health, 02/11/2016.

Low vitamin D level is not associated with increased incidence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Vitamin D levels were not associated with the development of RA in this patient population with matched controls. PubMed, Rheumatol Int, 2014 Apr 19. (Also see Autoimmune Diseases and Vitamin D)


Amelioration of Experimental Autoimmune Arthritis Through Targeting of Synovial Fibroblasts (SFs) by Intraarticular Delivery of MicroRNAs 140-3p and 140-5p. These results demonstrate that targeting SFs by IA delivery of miRNAs 140-3p and 140-5p can ameliorate autoimmune arthritis. PubMed, Arthritis Rheumatol, 2016 Feb;68(2):370-81.


Associations between CCL21 gene polymorphisms and susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis: a meta–analysis. This meta–analysis was conducted to examine the associations between CCL21 gene polymorphisms and susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis. PubMed, Rheumatol Int, 08/10/2017.

Genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics to elucidate the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis. This review examines how recent advances in the fields of genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics have contributed to our understanding of rheumatoid arthritis. PubMed, Rheumatol Int, 05/10/2017.

Evidence of ERBB3 gene association with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) predisposition. This study correlates ERBB3 gene with RA susceptibility, adding to a previous report of chromosome 12q13 association with RA liability. PubMed, Int J Rheum Dis, 2014 Dec 20.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC), Autoimmunity & Rheumatoid Arthritis. A better understanding of the link between these cells and their biology could be a key to developing novel MSC based strategies for therapy. PubMed, QJM, 2014 Feb 10. (Also see Autoimmunity)

Gut Bacteria

Gut bacteria linked to rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis has confounded efforts to identify its trigger and mounting evidence points to a new suspect: a disturbance in the bacteria that live in the intestines. NIH Research Matters.


Relationship Between Smoking and Structural Damage, Autoimmune Antibodies, and Disability in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients. There was no correlation between disease activity and smoking in our study and smoking does not appear to correlate with RA disease activity but it may be effective in the long–term joint damage. Archives of Rheumatology, 06/08/2017.

Could Gum Disease Cause Rheumatoid Arthritis? A type of bacteria found in severe gum disease may trigger many cases of rheumatoid arthritis, researchers reported Wednesday. NBC Health News, 12/14/2016. (Also see Periodontal Disease)

The Obesity Epidemic and Consequences for Rheumatoid Arthritis Care. Obesity has been observed to be associated with greater subjective measures of disease activity and poor treatment response, and also with a decreased risk of joint damage and lower mortality. Springer Link, 01/07/2016.

Coffee or tea consumption and the risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA): a meta-analysis. High coffee consumption is associated with an elevated risk of RA development. The association between coffee and RA was found in seropositive RA, but not in seronegative RA. PubMed, Clin Rheumatol, 2014 Nov;33(11):1575-83.

Salt and smoking may interact to raise rheumatoid arthritis risk. Eating a diet high in salt may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis among smokers, according to a large study from Sweden. Reuter's Health, 09/17/2014.

Sleep Disorders

The effect of eszopiclone in patients with insomnia and coexisting rheumatoid arthritis: a pilot study. In this pilot study of patients with insomnia comorbid with RA, eszopiclone 3 mg improved all assessed sleep and daytime function measures over the treatment period, as well as some measures of RA-associated pain, disability, and quality of life. PubMed, Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2009;11(6):292-301.

Go to Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis

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