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What is an anti-CCP test?

Raymond Lepage, PhD
Raymond Lepage, PhD
Senior Scientific Advisor

What is the purpose of this test?

This test is used to help diagnose and prognosticate rheumatoid arthritis and differentiate it from other types of arthritis.

CCPs (cyclic citrullinated peptides) come from the maturation of proteins in the body. These products fulfill several cellular functions.

The immune system is responsible for defending the body against attacks from foreign cells and organisms: bacteria, viruses, parasites and transplanted cells. Often, the immune system goes awry and confuses some of its own tissues as foreign. The production of antibodies against its own tissues is the cause of a large number of “autoimmune” diseases. Several types of arthritis, lupus, pernicious anemia, juvenile diabetes and some thyroid disorders are autoimmune in origin. The immune system’s production of antibodies against its own cyclic citrullinated peptides is the cause of rheumatoid arthritis.

There are several dozen forms of arthritis (joint inflammation): in addition to the autoimmune varieties such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, there are cases of arthritis due to aging (“normal” wear and tear), gout, and fractures or infections (viruses, bacteria or fungi).

The detection of anti-CCP antibodies confirms the presence of rheumatoid arthritis, establishes a prognosis for the progression of the disease and helps determine the best possible treatment.

When is this test prescribed?

An anti-CCP antibody assay is prescribed at the same time as or following an RA test (see this section) if a person shows signs or symptoms suggesting inflammatory arthritis. Signs and symptoms may include the following:

  • Painful, hot and/or swollen joints, most often in the hands and wrists
  • Occasional pain in the elbows, neck, shoulders, hips, knees and feet
  • Stiffness in the joints when getting up in the morning, which decreases during the day
  • Fatigue and fever
  • The development of nodules under the skin, especially at the elbows
  • A general feeling of discomfort

What do the results mean?

Positive anti-CCP test + positive RA test:

If you have signs or symptoms of arthritis, positive results in both the anti-CCP and RA tests are highly predictive of rheumatoid arthritis and you may develop a more progressive and severe form.

Positive anti-CCP test + negative RA test

Slightly positive anti-CCP test + slightly positive RA test

If you have suggestive signs of rheumatoid arthritis and positive results in the anti-CCP test but negative results in the RA test, or if you are symptomatic with weak results in both tests, it is likely that you are in the early phase of the disease or that it will develop in the future.

Negative anti-CCP test + positive RA test

If you have negative results in the anti-CCP test but positive results in the RA test, the symptoms and clinical signs will determine the diagnosis for the disease.

Negative anti-CCP test + negative RA test

If your results are negative for both tests (anti-CCP and RA), it is likely that the arthritis is due to a cause other than rheumatoid arthritis.

Additional information

Rheumatoid arthritis is first and foremost a clinical diagnosis. It remains possible that the disease may be present despite the absence of positive autoantibody results.

If you have any questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to call our customer service number at 1 833 590-2715.