Exposure to ambient air pollution and autoantibody status in rheumatoid arthritis

Asha M. Alex, Gary Kunkel, Harlan Sayles, Jorge D. Flautero Arcos, Ted R. Mikuls, Gail S. Kerr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the relationship between air pollutant (AP) exposure and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) autoantibody status Methods: We performed a cross sectional study utilizing enrollment data from participants in the Veterans Affairs rheumatoid arthritis registry. HLA-DRB1 shared epitope (SE), smoking, rheumatoid factor (RF), and anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody (ACPA) status were collected. Mean exposure levels were obtained for AP (NO2, SO2, particulate matter [PM2.5, PM10], and ozone) from air quality monitoring stations at patients’ residential zip codes in the year prior to enrollment. Multivariable logistic and ordinary least squares regression models were used to determine independent associations of AP with RA seropositivity and autoantibody concentration. Results: The cohort included 557 veterans (90% male, 76% Caucasian), with mean age of 70 years and mean disease duration of 13 years. The majority were HLA-DRB1 SE, RF, and ACPA positive (73%, 79%, and 76%, respectively). In univariate models, PM2.5 exposure was associated with higher ACPA concentration (p = 0.009). Similarly, in multivariable regression models, PM2.5 exposure was independently associated with higher ACPA concentration (p = 0.037). Current smoking independently predicted RF and ACPA positivity and titers, while HLA-DRB1 SE alleles were associated with RF positivity and ACPA positivity and titers. Conclusions: In an elderly cohort of RA patients, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure independently predicted higher ACPA concentration. Further study of fine particulate matter in the pathogenesis of RA is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)761-768
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Rheumatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Air pollution
  • Autoantibodies
  • Environment
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


Dive into the research topics of 'Exposure to ambient air pollution and autoantibody status in rheumatoid arthritis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this