Illustration of a joint with active rheumatoid arthritis (greek: arthros = joint).
Rheumatoid arthritis is an anti-immune disease which means the destruction of endogenous body marterial by immune cells.
Inflammation is the result, with the classis signs: Warmth, redness, swelling, pain, and decreased funtion.
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by wrongly directed immune cells (B-cells) that induce production of a lot of IL-1 and TNF-alpha, which causes severe joint inflammation (arthritis), destruction of cartilage (see blue areas) and activation of osteoclasts that destroy bone.
Rheumatoid arthritis, also called chronic polyarthritis, can be differentiated from other inflammatory joint diseases via specific attributes:
If patients do not (or not sufficiently) respond to DMARDs (disease modifying antirheumatic drugs) and/or TNF-alpha-blockers, new treatment options involve monoclonal chimeric antibodies that bind the CD-20-antigens of the attacking B-cells and cause their destruction.