Antibody to cartilage has been demonstrated by indirect immunofluorescence on rat trachea in the serum of about 3% of 1126 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Titres ranged from 1:20 to 1:640. The antibody was not found in 284 patients with primary or secondary osteoarthritis or in 1825 blood donors, nor, with the exception of two weak reactors, in 1314 paraplegic patients. In most cases the antibody appears to be specific for native type II collagen. Using this as an antigen in a haemagglutination test 94% of anti-cartilage sera were positive, whereas among 100 rheumatoid control sera there were only three weak positives. More than 80% of patients with antibody had some erosion of articular cartilage, but there was no correlation with age, sex, duration of disease, nor any recognisable clinical event or change.
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