Citrullination-related immunity and pathophysiology in rheumatoid arthritis. In genetically susceptible individuals, an environmental factor may initiate a primary inflammation, which can occur in various tissues, and trigger the immune response to citrullinated proteins (left). The resulting anti-citrullinated protein/peptide antibodies (ACPAs) are distributed through the circulation and may form immune complexes with citrullinated proteins produced in an inflamed synovium, thereby boosting the inflammatory process. This will be associated with the infiltration and activation of neutrophils, macrophages, and lymphocytes; cell death; extracellular DNA trap formation; the activation and release of peptidylarginine deiminases (PADs); de novo citrullination; and diversification of the ACPA response. Besides the common inflammation-associated mediators of tissue destruction (not shown), ACPAs and PADs can be directly involved in these processes. HLA, human leukocyte antigen.