The presence of the antibody rheumatoid factor (RF) in seemingly healthy men could have a negative effect on their bone density. That’s according to research presented in a poster session at the 2016 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
The study, “The Presence of Rheumatoid Factor Is Associated with Lower Bone Mass in Korean Health Screening Male Subjects without Clinically Apparent Arthritis,” is based on 1,390 healthy men culled from a study of 148,417 people. The larger cohort participated in a health check-up program at Samsung Hospital in Seoul, South Korea, between January and December of 2012.
For this study, researchers removed the women from that group to exclude estrogen’s effects on bone mass density. They also took out the subjects who self-identified in a questionnaire as having a history of diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disease and malignancy, as well as those taking medicines for those diseases, osteoporosis and arthritis.
Among the 1,390 healthy Korean men, RF was positive in 4.6 percent (64 people). Smoking history, alcohol consumption exercise habits and body mass index (BMI) didn’t differentiate between RF+ and RF- subjects.
Lead author Jiwon Hwang, of Seoul’s National Police Hospital, knows of no prior studies examining the association of RF and bone mass density (BMD) among those without a history of joint disease. That lack of study may be due to two factors, she said.
First, those without joint symptoms don’t typically get RF tests. “The population for the study about association between RF and BMD may be hard to approach,” she said. “Owing to the distinctive health check-up program in Korea, the RF and BMD data was available.”
Second, RF isn’t sufficiently prevalent in the general population to require studying its association with BMD, Dr. Hwang said.
Although the study found an association, Dr. Hwang cautioned that more research needs to be done. “The study population was limited to Korean male subjects only,” she said. “Including more female subjects may be better to generalize our conclusion.”