The Role of Rheumatoid Factor in Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Comprehensive Review

Author(s): Shimon Yoshida

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation, pain, and progressive joint damage. Rheumatoid factor (RF), an autoantibody directed against the Fc portion of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies, has long been recognized as a serological hallmark of RA. This abstract provides a concise overview of the role of RF in RA, encompassing its diagnostic significance, clinical implications, and evolving perspectives. RF serves as a valuable diagnostic tool, aiding in the identification of RA patients. However, its specificity is limited, as RF can also be detected in other autoimmune conditions and even in healthy individuals. Nonetheless, RF positivity remains an important clinical indicator, with higher levels often associated with more severe disease and greater joint destruction. Beyond its diagnostic value, RF holds clinical significance, impacting disease management decisions. RA patients who are RF-positive tend to experience a more aggressive disease course, emphasizing the importance of early and tailored therapeutic interventions. Monitoring RF levels during treatment can guide rheumatologists in assessing disease activity and optimizing therapy. In conclusion, while RF is not exclusive to RA and has its limitations, it remains a crucial serological marker with diagnostic and prognostic value in RA. An evolving understanding of RF's role in disease pathogenesis continues to shape its significance in clinical practice, underscoring the need for a comprehensive approach to RA diagnosis and management.