Novel approach identifies unique DNA signature

Posted on 13 July 2015

In exciting new work published in the prestigious journal Epigenomics, researchers in the Research Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine (ISTM) and at the Haywood Rheumatology Centre, have for the first time identified disease-associated changes to the DNA epigenome in joint fluid cells from patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

These patients often develop swollen joints and the excess fluid represents an attractive source to harvest and study the cells that cause damage within the diseased joint without damaging the joint tissue itself. The Epigenetics Research group used these cells to perform genome-wide profiling across more than 20,000 individual genes in these patients.

John Glossop Dr John Glossop, first author of the publication, and colleagues identified a signature in these cells that uniquely distinguished patients with rheumatoid arthritis from those with other types of arthritis. Previous studies, where similar genes have been identified, have relied on cells from joint tissue obtained during joint replacement surgery.

These important new data support the use of joint fluid as a readily available alternative to study the role of these changes in the onset of joint disease and in the clinical management of this condition.

The study was funded by the Haywood Rheumatism Research and Development Foundation, and was authored by John Glossop, Kim Haworth, Nicola Nixon, Jon Packham, Peter Dawes, Anthony Fryer, Derek Mattey and William Farrell (ISTM/Haywood Rheumatology Centre), together with Richard Emes, Professor of Bioinformatics at the University of Nottingham

For more information on the researchers please visit:

John Glossop –

Jon Packham –

Anthony Fryer –

Derek Mattey  -

William Farrell –

Richard Emes –

To view the publication please visit:

"John R Glossop, Kim E Haworth, Richard D Emes, Nicola B Nixon, Jon C Packham, Peter T Dawes, Anthony A Fryer, Derek L Mattey & William E Farrell (2015) "DNA methylation profiling of synovial fluid FLS in rheumatoid arthritis reveals changes common with tissue-derived FLSa"; Epigenomics Vol. 7, No. 4, Pages 539-551

DOI - read the abstract/text online at: