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Posted: September 28th, 2023

Pathophysiology of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Pathophysiology of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation of the synovial joints that can lead to significant disability if left untreated (McInnes & Schett, 2017). The exact cause is unknown, but both genetic and environmental factors like smoking are thought to play a role in triggering the immune system to mistakenly attack the body’s own tissues.
RA causes a inflammatory process where the immune system … … mistakenly attacks the synovium, or lining of the joints. This causes swelling (inflammation) that can damage cartilage and bone within joints over time (McInnes & Schett, 2017). An autoimmune response is mounted by T and B lymphocytes along with pro-inflammatory cytokines like TNF-α and IL-1β. Chronic synovitis leads to … … pannus formation, erosion of cartilage and bone, and ultimately joint deformity if not controlled.
Common symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling in multiple joints especially the hands, feet and wrists. Systemic features such as fatigue, low-grade fever and Sjögren’s syndrome may also be present. Diagnosis involves physical exam, blood tests, and x-rays … … of involved joints showing erosions or narrowing of joint spaces.
Treatment aims to reduce inflammation and prevent joint damage and disability. First-line medications include DMARDs like methotrexate and biologic … … response modifiers targeting specific cytokines involved in the immune cascade like TNF-α inhibitors (McInnes & Schett, 2017). Corticosteroids may provide short-term relief of severe flares. Surgery is sometimes needed for joint deformities or replacements.
Understanding the autoimmune pathophysiology of RA helps guide use of immunomodulating therapies to suppress disease activity and progression of this debilitating condition. Please let me know if any part needs more explanation or details.
McInnes, I. B., & Schett, if any part needs more explanation or details.
McInnes, I. B., & Schett, G. (2017). Pathogenetic insights from the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The Lancet, 389 if any part needs more explanation or details.
McInnes, I. B., & Schett, G. (2017). Pathogenetic insights from the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The Lancet, 389(10086), 2328-2337.

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