Transferrin, a microheterogeneous iron-transporting N-glycoprotein, is the best model for studying the glycosylation profile in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). For this study, researchers wanted to examine the transferrin isoform profile in RA patients at the time of diagnosis and then investigate their relationships with disease activity. Serum samples were taken from 48 RA patients. The patients were males (6) and females (42) ranging in age from 33 to 85 years. About 30 healthy individuals served as the control group. Capillary electrophoresis using a MINICAP electrophoretic device was used to examine transferrin isoforms.

When RA patients were compared to the control group, there was a significant decrease in the relative concentrations of trials- (mean ± SD; 2.130 ± 1.112) and pentasialotransferrin (13.562 ± 3.088), and a significant increase in tetrasialotransferrin (83.640 ± 3.165) (3.615 ± 1.156; 76.840 ± 5.621; 18.610 ± 6.027, respectively) (U Mann–Whitney test: p < 0.001). Disialotransferrin concentrations in RA patients did not alter significantly. In RA patients, trisialotransferrin concentration correlated with RA activity expressed as DAS 28 (p < 0.001). Low trisialotransferrin concentration was also linked to a high platelet count and an elevated ESR (p < 0.001 for both). The concentrations of dialog-, tetrasialo-, and pentasialotransferrin did not correlate with DAS 28.

Patients suffering from RA The serum transferrin isoform profile is changed. Researchers anticipate that the levels of trisialylated transferrin will be a helpful biochemical measure of RA activity.