Modelling rheumatoid arthritis: a hybrid modelling framework to describe pannus formation in a small joint

Fiona R. Macfarlane*, Mark A.J. Chaplain, Raluca Eftimie

*Corresponding author for this work

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints, and negatively impacts the life of affected patients. The disease does not have a cure yet, as there are still many aspects of this complex disorder that are not fully understood. While mathematical models can shed light on some of these aspects, to date there are few such models that can be used to better understand the disease. As a first step in the mechanistic understanding of RA, in this study we introduce a new hybrid mathematical modelling framework that describes pannus formation in a small proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint. We perform numerical simulations with this new model, to investigate the impact of different levels of immune cells (macrophages and fibroblasts) on the degradation of bone and cartilage. Since many model parameters are unknown and cannot be estimated due to a lack of experiments, we also perform a sensitivity analysis of model outputs to various model parameters (single parameters or combinations of parameters). Finally, we discuss how our model could be applied to investigate current treatments for RA, for example, methotrexate, TNF-inhibitors or tocilizumab, which can impact different model parameters.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100014
Number of pages20
Early online date20 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Hybrid model
  • Stochasticity
  • Immune response


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