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The Role of the Laboratory in the Diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Introduction to Rheumatoid Arthritis

Slide 2

August 2011

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease, with patients requiring life-long monitoring and treatment following diagnosis. It is heterogeneous in its clinical presentation, both in terms of its initial presentation and the overall disease course. Although most people are aware of the joint destruction that accompanies rheumatoid arthritis, we also need to appreciate that this disease is systemic, with the potential to involve a variety of organ systems. It is believed to have an autoimmune etiology, which is based primarily on the characteristics of the disease. However, the presence of a specific autoantigen has yet to be demonstrated.

There are multiple factors that are related to the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis, and these are both environmental and genetic. Genetics is thought to account for approximately half of the risk for developing RA, with environmental exposures also playing a significant role.

Both the genetics and the cumulative environmental exposures together are likely responsible for the varied presentation of the disease.

Introduction to Rheumatoid Arthritis


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