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Anti-CCP Antibody Test
The anti-CCP antibody test refers to a test to detect antibodies to citrullinated proteins in the body. anti-CCP stands for “anti-Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide”.
Did you know your body is made up of amino acids? Yep, these amino acids are the building blocks of all of the proteins in your body. The body uses 20 standard amino acids to make up your various protein structures (kind of like 20 standard lego pieces). So you link a bunch of amino acids together and you can make a protein. Some examples of standard amino acids include names like arginine, cysteine, glutamine, and tyrosine. Amino acids are often called, “the building blocks of life”. So you’re probably asking, “what the heck does this have to do with anti-ccp?” Well just hold one, I’m setting the stage for you.
There are also a number of non-standard amino acids. They are created by modifying one of the standard amino acids. These modifications can be essential for the function and regulation of a protein. However, many non-standard amino acids are never found in proteins.
Arginine is a standard amino acid. Arginine can be converted to the non-standard amino acid citrulline by an enzyme called Peptidyl-Arginine-Deiminase (PAD). When the arginine is converted to citrulline the resulting protein or peptide is said to be citrullinated.
These citrullinated proteins are felt to be one of the drivers of the immune process in rheumatoid arthritis. They are not normally found in the body and as a result your body thinks these proteins are foreign and starts to attack them with your immune system. The only problem is these proteins are found in the joints and when the immune system starts attacking the joint becomes involved. Think of it like the airforce wanting to drop a bomb on an enemy building. Usually other things surrounding it are damaged as well.
Instead of a bomb, your body makes antibodies to these citrullinated proteins. We can then use a test to tell if you have these antibodies in your blood … the anti-CCP test.
Ok, so why is it important to know if you have anti-CCP antibodies? Well, I’ll tell you:
- In a normal person (i.e. you don’t have any joint problems) a positive anti-CCP significantly increases the odds of developing RA.
- In a person in the early stages of arthritis a positive anti-CCP significantly increases the odds of developing RA (better than Rheumatoid Factor).
- In a person with known RA a positive anti-CCP is a good predictor for erosive disease.