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Arthritis Research and Therapy

, 14:R15

First Online: 20 January 2012Received: 03 August 2011Revised: 21 December 2011Accepted: 20 January 2012


IntroductionCartilage oligomeric matrix protein COMP is found at elevated concentrations in sera of patients with joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis RA and osteoarthritis OA. We recently showed that COMP activates complement via the alternative pathway and that COMP-C3b complexes are present in sera of RA patients, but not in healthy controls. We now set out to elaborate on the information provided by this marker in a variety of diseases and larger patient cohorts.

MethodsCOMP-C3b levels in sera were measured by using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay ELISA capturing COMP and detecting C3b. Serum COMP was measured by using ELISA.

ResultsCOMP-C3b levels were significantly elevated in patients with RA as well as in systemic lupus erythematosus SLE, compared with healthy controls. SLE patients with arthritis had significantly higher COMP-C3b levels than did those without. COMP-C3b was furthermore elevated in patients with ankylosing spondylitis AS, psoriatic arthritis PsA, reactive arthritis, systemic sclerosis, and OA. COMP-C3b did not correlate with COMP in any of the patient groups. COMP-C3b correlated with disease activity in RA, but not in other diseases. COMP-C3b levels in RA patients decreased on treatment with tumor necrosis factor TNF-α inhibitors, whereas the levels increased in patients with AS or PsA. The changes of COMP-C3b did not parallel the changes of C-reactive protein CRP.

ConclusionsCOMP-C3b levels are elevated in several rheumatologic diseases and correlate with inflammatory measures in RA. COMP-C3b levels in RA decrease during TNF-α inhibition differently from those of CRP, suggesting that formation of COMP-C3b relates to disease features not reflected by general inflammation measures.

AbbreviationsACPAanti-citrullinated peptide antibody

ASankylosing spondylitis

COMPcartilage oligomeric matrix protein

CRPC-reactive protein

DASdisease activity score

EGFepidermal growth factor

ESRerythrocyte sedimentation rate


PsApsoriatic arthritis

RArheumatoid arthritis

ReAreactive arthritis

RFrheumatoid factor

SLEsystemic lupus erythematosus

SLEDAISLE Disease Activity Index

SLRPsmall leucine-rich repeat protein

SScsystemic sclerosis

TNF-αtumor necrosis factor-α

VASvisual analogue scale.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-ar3694 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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