Purpose: Recent studies have demonstrated that serum/plasma DNA and RNA molecules in addition to proteins can serve as biomarkers. Elevated levels of these nucleic acids have been found not only in acute, but also in chronic conditions, including autoimmune diseases. The aim of this study was to assess cell-free DNA (cfDNA) levels in sera of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients compared to controls. Methods: cfDNA was extracted from sera of patients with early and established RA, relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients (RRMS) and healthy subjects, and its concentration was determined by quantitative PCR using two amplicons, Alu115 and β-actin205, corresponding to Alu repetitive elements and the β-actin single-copy gene, respectively. Serum DNase activity was measured by a single radial enzyme diffusion method. Results: Reduced levels of cfDNA were observed in patients with established RA in comparison with healthy controls, early RA patients and RRMS patients. There were no significant differences in cfDNA concentration between healthy controls, early RA and RRMS patients. Total DNase activity appeared to be similar in the sera of all tested groups. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that cfDNA levels are strongly reduced in the sera of established RA patients, which is not caused by changes in DNase activity. Measurement of cfDNA can distinguish established RA patients from early RA patients. Thus, cfDNA may serve as a biomarker in RA.

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doi.org/10.1007/s13317-015-0066-6, hdl.handle.net/1765/86451
Autoimmunity Highlights
Department of Pediatrics

Dunaeva, M., Buddingh’, B. C., Toes, R. E. M., Luime, J., Lubberts, E., & Pruijn, G. J. M. (2015). Decreased serum cell-free DNA levels in rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmunity Highlights, 6(1-2), 23–30. doi:10.1007/s13317-015-0066-6