Low levels of anti-CCP can be found in the test results of certain patients but may not enough to produce a positive result. Re-testing later on may be required in patients who continue to display clinical rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Anti-CCP is an autoantibody. This means that the patient’s immune system produces antibodies that identify the patient’s cells as foreign material and as a result, attack its own normal cells. These attacks can produce inflammatory symptoms most commonly experienced in rheumatoid arthritis.
Testing for the presence of anti-CCP is a relatively new support tool in helping doctors diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. Prior to the discovery and testing of anti-CCP, most doctors used rheumatoid factor (RF), another antibody as a test to help reach a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis.
Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) is an antibody present in most rheumatoid arthritis patients. Levels of anti-CCP can be detected in a patient through a simple blood test. A positive anti-CCP test result can be used in conjunction with other blood tests, imaging tests, and/or physical examination findings to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis.
A patient with rheumatoid arthritis who has positive blood tests for anti-CCP has what is commonly referred to as seropositive rheumatoid arthritis. Alternatively, a patient with similar symptoms but negative blood work is referred to as having seronegative rheumatoid arthritis.
A positive anti-CCP test result can be used as a prognostic tool to determine the severity of symptoms the patient may have throughout their disease course. Anti-CCP positive patients can potentially experience a more aggressive disease course. However, this can also depend on many different factors and varies between each individual. The prognosis of anti-CCP positive patients also depends greatly on early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis as well as early initiation of treatment.
Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) antibody testing is particularly useful in the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, with high specificity, presence early in the disease process, and ability to identify patients who are likely to have severe disease and irreversible damage. However, its sensitivity is low, and a negative result does not exclude disease. Anti-CCP antibodies have not been found at a significant frequency in other diseases to date, and are more specific than rheumatoid factor for detecting rheumatoid arthritis.