(HealthDay News) — Genetic variations may hold clues to rheumatoid arthritis — suggesting not only who will develop the condition, but also predicting its severity and a patient’s mortality risk, according to new research published in the April 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Sebastien Viatte, M.D., Ph.D., a research fellow at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data from several sources on thousands of U.K. patients to explore the association between HLA-DRB1 gene mutations and rheumatoid arthritis. Viatte’s team used imaging data collected on 2,112 patients to evaluate the radiologic severity. They evaluated the mortality risk in 2,432 patients and the effectiveness of tumor necrosis factor inhibitors on 1,846 patients.
The researchers found that the HLA-DRB1 locus was associated with rheumatoid arthritis severity and the response to treatment with tumor necrosis factor inhibitors.
“Although the findings reported by Viatte and colleagues may not have immediate clinical implications, identification of the precise HLA variants that influence disease course is of great interest,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial. “These observations open the door to further research, including replication for this haplotype and discovery related to its combination with other determinants of disease development and progression. Such discoveries will prove helpful both to understand and predict the variable disease course and response to therapy that occurs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.”