Rheumatoid factor represents a group of antibodies characterized by their ability to react with antigenic determinants on the Fc portion of immunoglobulin. Serum from patients with rheumatoid arthritis agglutinate sheep red blood cells (SRBCs) sensitized by rabbit anti-SRBC and this is the basis of the Waaler-Rose test. However, latex beads coated with Cohn fraction II as the source of IgG antigen, devised by Singer and Plötz, is the most widely used test today.
Other techniques for demonstrating rheumatoid factor include nephelometry and ELISA. Laser nephelometry and rate nephelometry utilize the changes in light-scattering properties of aggregated IgG when exposed to sera containing rheumatoid factor. These tests are reported to be equally sensitive and specific and more reproducible than established agglutination techniques, and they lend themselves well to automation.
See also: Agglutination; Antibodies, detection of; Antiglobulin (Coombs') test; Antinuclear antibodies;
Autoantigens; Autoimmune diseases; Autoimmunity; Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA); Immunoassays; Immunodiffusion, single radial; Nephelometry; Precipitation reaction; Western blotting.
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