Rheumatoid Factor (RF)

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Catherine Burt Driver, MD
    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.

Quick GuideRheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms and Treatment

Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms and Treatment

Can rheumatoid factor be present in a patient without rheumatoid arthritis?

Yes. Rheumatoid factor is also present in patients with other conditions, including other connective tissue diseases (such as systemic lupus erythematosus and Sjögren's syndrome), some infectious diseases (such as infectious hepatitis, syphilis, infectious mononucleosis, parasites, and tuberculosis), liver disease, and sarcoidosis. Rheumatoid factor can also sometimes be present in normal individuals without diseases. This occurs more frequently in people with family members who have rheumatoid arthritis. So precise interpretation of rheumatoid factors requires a complete knowledge of the patient's history and medical status.

What significance do high levels of rheumatoid factor hold for patients with rheumatoid arthritis?

High levels of rheumatoid factor are associated with a tendency toward more severe rheumatoid disease. This factor is also associated with a higher tendency to develop non-joint manifestations of rheumatoid disease, such as rheumatoid nodules and rheumatoid lung disease.

REFERENCE:

Klippel, J.H., et al. Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases. New York: Springer, 2008.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/2/2016

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