Systematic review: Accuracy of anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies for diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis

Penny F. Whiting, Nynke Smidt, Jonathan A.C. Sterne, Roger Harbord, Anya Burton, Margaret Burke, Rebecca Beynon, Yoav Ben-Shlomo, John Axford, Paul Dieppe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Early recognition and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is important to prevent irreversible joint damage. Anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies (ACPA) have been suggested for early diagnosis. Purpose: To compare the accuracy of ACPA and rheumatoid factor in diagnosing rheumatoid arthritis in patients with early symptoms of the disease. Data Sources: 10 medical databases from inception to September 2009, with no language or publication restrictions, and references of included studies. Study Selection: Two independent reviewers screened searches. Full articles were assessed by one reviewer and checked by a second reviewer to identify studies that reported 2 x 2 data on ACPA for the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (by 1987 American College of Rheumatology criteria). Data Extraction: One reviewer abstracted data on patient characteristics, ACPA details, and 2 x 2 data and assessed study quality by using the QUADAS tool. A second reviewer checked extractions. Data Synthesis: 151 studies were included, with considerable heterogeneity in sensitivity (range, 12% to 93%) and specificity (range, 63% to 100%). In cohort studies that investigated secondgeneration anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies (anti-CCP2) in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (<2 years), summary sensitivity and specificity were 57% (95% CI, 51% to 63%) and 96% (CI, 93% to 97%), respectively. Case-control and cross-sectional studies and studies of patients with established rheumatoid arthritis all overestimated sensitivity. Anti-CCP2 had greater specificity than rheumatoid factor (96% vs. 86%), with similar sensitivity. Evidence was insufficient to ascertain whether the combination of anti-CCP2 and rheumatoid factor provides additional benefit over anti-CCP2 alone. Limitations: Most studies used a diagnostic case-control design, which overestimated sensitivity. Items relating to study quality were rarely reported. Publication bias could not be assessed. Conclusion: Anti-CCP2 should be included in the work-up of patients with early symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)456-464
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Internal Medicine
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes


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