Rheumatoid arthritis is a common autoimmune disorder, most often affecting women from 40 to 60 years old. The major symptom is chronic inflammation of the joints, although the hematologic, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems are also frequently affected. Many individuals with rheumatoid arthritis produce a group of auto-antibodies called rheumatoid factors that are reactive with determinants in the Fc region of IgG. The classic rheumatoid factor is an IgM antibody with that reactivity. Such auto-antibodies bind to normal circulating IgG, forming IgM-IgG complexes that are deposited in the joints. These immune complexes can activate the complement cascade, resulting in a type III hypersensitive reaction, which leads to chronic inflammation of the joints.
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