Inflammation driven connective tissue turnover is key in rheumatic diseases, such as ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Few biomarkers are available for measuring disease prognosis or the efficacy of interventions applied in these tissue-related conditions. Type II collagen is the primary structural protein of cartilage and type III collagen of connective tissues, and obvious targets for the collagenalytic, which increase during tissue inflammation. The objective of the study was to investigate the diagnostic and prognostic utility of cartilage, C2M, and synovial, C3M, turnover biomarkers in AS. Serum samples were retrieved from patients suffering from AS (n = 103), RA (n = 47) and healthy controls (n = 56). AS progressors were defined as having new vertebral syndesmophytes or more that 3 unit change in mSASSS over a two-year period. Type II collagen degradation markers in serum were measured by the C2M ELISA, and type III collagen degradation by the C3M ELISA. Logistic regression and dichotomized decision tree were used to analyze the prognostic value of the markers individually or in combination. Both C2M and C3M levels were significantly higher in RA patients than in healthy controls (p<0.0001). Diagnostic utility was analyzed by ROC and areas under the curve (AUCs) were 72% and 89% for C2M and C3M, respectively. Both C2M and C3M, were significantly higher in serum samples from AS patient than from healthy controls (p<0.0001). The AUCs of C2M and C3M, respectively, were 70% and 81% for AS. A combination of C2M and C3M, dichotomized according to best cut-offs for individual markers, could correctly identify 80% of the progressors and 61% of the non-progressors. The present study is the first to show that specific biomarkers of cartilage and connective tissue degradation facilitate both diagnosis and prediction of progression of RA and AS.

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