Exposure to aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans before symptom onset and the risk of evolving to rheumatoid arthritis

Eduardo Gomez‐Bañuelos, Linda Johansson, Maximilian F. Konig, Anders Lundquist, Merlin Paz, Kåre Buhlin, Anders Johansson, Solbritt Rantapää‐Dahlqvist, Felipe Andrade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Periodontal disease has been implicated in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease characterized by immune‐mediated synovial damage, and antibodies to citrullinated antigens. Here, we investigate the association between exposure to the periodontal pathogen Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (Aa) and the development of RA. IgM, IgG and IgA antibodies to Aa leukotoxin A (LtxA) were detected by ELISA in plasma from a cohort of Swedish adults at different stages of RA development, from before onset of symptoms to established disease. Patients with early and established RA had increased levels of anti‐LtxA IgM compared with matched non‐RA controls and periodontally healthy individuals. Logistic regression revealed that anti‐LtxA IgM levels were associated with RA during early disease (OR 1.012, 95%CI 1.007, 1.017), which was maintained after adjustment for smoking, anti‐CCP antibodies, rheumatoid factor, HLA‐ DRB1 shared epitope alleles and sex. We found no association between anti‐LtxA IgG/IgA antibodies and RA at any stage of disease development. The data support a temporal association between anti‐LtxA IgM antibodies and the development of RA, suggesting that a subset of RA patients may have been exposed to Aa around the time of transition from being asymptomatic to become a patient with RA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1906
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2 2020


  • Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans
  • Anti-citrullinated protein antibodies
  • Leukotoxin A
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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