, Volume 70, Issue 1, pp 22-27

Elevated TNF receptor plasma concentrations in patients with rheumatoid arthritis

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Summary

Two types of tumor necrosis factor receptors have been characterized, both capable of transmitting the signal and exerting the biological functions of TNF and lymphotoxin. We measured the plasma concentrations of two types of TNF binding proteins (sTNFR-A and sTNFR-B) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and spondylarthropathies (SpA) using an enzyme-linked binding assay. In normal controls (n = 43), mean plasma concentrations were 1030 ± 55 and 1461 ±59 pg/ml for sTNFR types A and B, respectively. In 67 patients with moderate RA, mean levels were 1422 ± 82 pg/ml (type A) and 2088 ± 109 pg/ml (type B); in 34 patients with severe RA, 2588 ±279 pg/ml and 4494 ± 550 pg/ml, respectively, were measured (P < 0.0001 compared to normal controls). Concentrations of both type A and type B sTNFR were highly correlated in severe RA (R2 = 0.7) but not in SpA or normal controls. T lymphocytes in synovial fluid of patients with RA expressed predominantly type A TNF receptors on their surface; in some patients a weaker expression of type B receptors was also detectable. Soluble TNF binding proteins in patients with RA were able to neutralize TNF in a cytotoxiity assay, demonstrating their ability to act as “TNF-inhibiting factors”. We conclude that both types of TNF receptors are parameters of disease activity in RA and may also act as TNF antagonists.