AUTOIMMUNITY Understanding bone loss in rheumatoid arthritis patients

Rheumatoid arthritis causes joint stiffness and pain for over 2 million Americans. The disease is caused by an errant attack on healthy tissue by the body's immune system. Antibodies found in some patients target specific types of modified proteins, called citrullinated proteins, and are associated with an increased risk of bone destruction. Dr. Georg Schett and fellow researchers at University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany suspected that these particular self-reactive antibodies directly influence bone loss that can sometimes occur in rheumatoid arthritis. They found that antibodies against citrullinated proteins bind to osteoclasts, specialized cells that break down bone tissue. In a mouse model system, they demonstrated that infusion of antibodies recognizing a cirtullinated protein activated osteoclasts and triggered bone resorption, resulting in the breakdown of bone and release of calcium. Their study provides strong evidence for a direct link between antibodies recognizing citrullinated proteins and bone loss.

TITLE: Induction of osteoclastogenesis and bone loss by human autoantibodies against citrullinated vimentin

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