Contraceptive Choice May Affect RA Development in Women

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ACR: Contraception Choice May Affect RA-Related Autoantibodies
ACR: Contraception Choice May Affect RA-Related Autoantibodies

(HealthDay News) — For women at increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), choice of contraceptive may affect serum autoantibodies to citrullinated protein antigens (ACPA) positivity, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, held from Nov. 14 to 19 in Boston.

The authors note that the preclinical phase of RA development is characterized by elevations of serum RA-related autoantibodies, including ACPA. With this in mind, Sonia Khatter, from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, and colleagues evaluated 336 first-degree relatives (FDR) of probands with RA. At their baseline visit, the patients had serum enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay testing for ACPA and a contraceptive and pregnancy history taken. Only one subject was selected per family and consequently the final analysis included 297 FDRs.

The researchers found that after adjustment for age, race, and smoking, prior use of the oral contraceptive pill correlated with reduced risk of serum ACPA positivity (odds ratio, 0.34). Women who had a history of intrauterine device use had increased risk for ACPA positivity (odds ratio, 2.68, after adjustment for age, race, and smoking). There were no significant correlations between ACPA positivity and pregnancy or breastfeeding.

"We think these findings are very exciting and will lead to future studies that improve our understanding of RA development in women," a coauthor said in a statement.

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