Exome sequencings were conducted using 59 patients having rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and 93 controls. After stepwise filtering, 107 genes showed less than 0.05 of P-values by gene-burden tests. Among 107 genes, NDUFA7 which is a subunit of the complex I in the mitochondrial respiratory chain was selected for further analysis based on previous reports. A case-control study was performed on the three single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) of NDUFA7 with 432 cases and 432 controls. An association was observed between NDUFA7 and RA with severe erosive arthritis. These results together with previous reports suggested the involvement of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the pathogenesis of RA. In the next step, four SNVs from three genes related to the mitochondrial respiratory chain were selected, which is a major source of ROS, and conducted a case-control study. An association was observed based on a pathway-burden test comprising NDUFA7, SDHAF2, SCO1 and ATP5O: P=1.56E-04, odds ratio=2.16, 95% confidence interval=1.43-3.28. Previous reports suggested the involvement of ROS in the pathogenesis of RA. The aggregation of SNVs in the mitochondria respiratory chain suggests the pivotal role of those SNVs in the pathogenesis of RA with severe erosive arthritis.
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