Longitudinal relationships between rheumatoid factor and cytokine expression by immunostimulated peripheral blood lymphocytes from patients with rheumatoid arthritis: New insights into B-cell activation

John M. Davis, Cynthia S. Crowson, Keith L. Knutson, Sara J. Achenbach, Michael A. Strausbauch, Terry M. Therneau, Eric L. Matteson, Sherine E. Gabriel, Peter J. Wettstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


To identify associations between immunostimulated cytokine production and disease characteristics, peripheral blood lymphocytes were collected from 155 adult patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) before and after a 5-year interval. The lymphocytes were activated in vitro with T-cell stimulants, cytosine-phosphate-guanine (CpG) oligonucleotide, and medium alone (negative control). Expression of 17 cytokines was evaluated with immunoassays, and factor analysis was used to reduce data complexity and identify cytokine combinations indicative of cell types preferentially activated by each immunostimulant. The findings showed that the highest numbers of correlations were between cytokine levels and rheumatoid factor (RF) positivity and between cytokine levels and disease duration. Scores for cytokines driven by CpG and medium alone were negatively associated with RF positivity and disease duration at baseline but positively associated with both at 5 years. Our findings suggest that RF expression sustained over time increases activation of B cells and monocytes without requirements for T-cell functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108342
JournalClinical Immunology
StatePublished - Feb 2020



  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Immunostimulation
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rheumatoid factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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