Cyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies are autoantibodies
. They are produced by the immune system in response to cyclic citrullinated peptides. This test is used to identify and measure the amount of anti-CCP antibodies present in the blood. Citrulline is a natural product of the body. It is formed in the metabolic process of the amino acid arginine. In people with rheumatoid arthritis, this conversion occurs at a higher rate. The substance citrulline changes the configuration of the protein, which triggers an immune response leading to the production of autoantibodies against joint proteins. The CCP antibody not only helps in the diagnosis
of the disease but is also useful in identifying patients with a more rapidly erosive form of the disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease. This systemic autoimmune condition can lead to discomfort in the form of pain, inflammation, stiffness in the hands, feet, and other joints in the body. It may also cause heavier, destructive changes in them. The disease is not limited to an age bracket; however, it usually develops between the ages of 40 and 60. Furthermore, the disease is more common amongst women. The way the disease progresses and its prognosis varies from person to person. It may develop very quickly or proceed slowly. Sometimes, people may go into remission, and for some, it may go away. If the disease is left untreated, however, it can significantly shorten a person’s lifespan and may leave people that are affected unable to work in a span of a few years. Breaking down the test Making an accurate diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and beginning the appropriate treatment plan before the onset of irreversible joint damage is essential. Previously, rheumatoid factor was the main blood test used to detect RA and to differentiate it from other categories of arthritis and additional inflammatory conditions. But, the rheumatoid factor test is not ideal in terms of its specificity and sensitivity. The test may be negative in people that have signs of clinical rheumatoid arthritis and positive in people that do not have those signs. The sensitivity of the cyclic citrullinated antibody test is the same as that of rheumatoid factor, but it has a specificity of 95 to 98%. It is also likely to be positive with the early onset of RA. However, ACR includes CCP antibody testing with rheumatoid factor as part of the criteria for diagnosing the disease. The American College of Rheumatology argues that CCP antibodies can be detected in nearly 60% of people with early onset of RA – as early as 3 to 6 months after the development of symptoms. This early detection and diagnosis are imperative because doctors can be aggressive in their treatment of the disease, minimizing the risk, complications, and damage.