June 16, 2009
Summer onset arthritis less severe
Researchers in France suggest that the season in which rheumatoid arthritis symptoms appear may indicate the severity of those symptoms.
The findings, presented in Copenhagen at the annual congress of the European League Against Rheumatism, may help identify patients with rheumatoid arthritis needing more intensive early therapy.
Similarly, patients' symptoms after six months were worse if their first symptoms had occurred in winter versus autumn. This effect was not observed at a 12-month follow up. The researchers suggest initial environmental factors probably exert less of an long-term effect.
During our study of predictors of radiographic progression, we have unveiled a distinct relationship between rheumatoid arthritis progression and seasonal onset and postulate that this could be as a result of either a vitamin D deficiency or environmental factors, such as winter viruses, influencing protein citrullination, Mouterde said in a statement.
Anti-citrullinated protein antibodies, Mouterde said, are often found in the immune systems of rheumatoid arthritis patients and may assist in identifying patients at a higher risk of developing structural damage.