Rheumatoid (RA) can be a form of autoimmune disease where your body mistakenly attacks the membranes that line your joint. This can cause inflammation and pain, as well as possible damage to other systems in the body such as:
- Blood vessels
RA is a chronic condition. People suffering from RA can experience flare-ups, which are intense periods of disease activity. Some people experience periods where symptoms decrease or disappear. According to the American College of Rheumatology, 1.3 million Americans have RA.
It is not clear what exactly caused the immune system to malfunction. Researchers believe that certain genes could increase your chance of developing RA, just as with other autoimmune disorders. Researchers don’t consider RA to be an inherited condition.
What role does genetics play in RA?
Your immune system defends you from foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses. Sometimes your immune system can be fooled into attacking healthy areas of your body.
Researchers have identified genes that regulate the immune response. These genes increase your risk of developing RA. These genes are not necessarily present in everyone with RA.
These genes include:
HLA. HLA. The risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis is five times higher for those with the HLA genetic marker than for those without it. This gene is a significant risk factor for RA.
- This gene is involved in activating and regulating the immune system.
- C5 and TRAF1. Chronic inflammation is caused by this gene.
- This gene is linked to the onset and progression of RA.
Many genes that are thought to cause RA also play a role in multiple autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes or multiple sclerosis. This could explain why some people have more than one autoimmune disorder.
What does it mean to have RA in your family?
According to one study, RA is three times more common in the first-degree relatives than it is in the first-degree relatives.
This means that siblings and parents of someone with RA may be at a slight higher risk for developing RA. This does not include environmental factors.
Gender, ethnicity, and age
Although RA can be found in all ages and genders, the majority of those with it are women. These women are typically diagnosed with RA between the ages 30-60. Research suggests that RA may be linked to hormones in the female genital area.
Men are more likely to be diagnosed later than women, and the overall risk of developing cancer in men increases with age.
Risk of RA and pregnancy
An American Society of Human Genetics 2014 study found that women who had babies with genes linked to RA were more likely than those without RA to develop it. For example, babies with the HLADRB1 gene.
This is because fetal cells are still present in the mother’s body during pregnancy. Microchimerism is the preservation of DNA-rich cells.
Is RA genetic?
Although RA is not hereditary, genetics can play a role in your risk of developing it. Research has identified a number genetic markers that can increase the risk.
These genes are closely linked to the immune system, chronic inflammation, RA, and RA in particular. Not everyone who carries these genes develops RA. These markers are not available to everyone who has RA.