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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Serum levels of autoantibodies against monomeric C-reactive protein are correlated with disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus

Christopher Sjöwall1*, Anders A Bengtsson2, Gunnar Sturfelt2 and Thomas Skogh1

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Rheumatology, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Sweden

2 Department of Rheumatology, Lund University Hospital, Sweden

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Arthritis Res Ther 2004, 6:R87-R94  doi:10.1186/ar1032

Published: 5 December 2003

Abstract

This study was performed to investigate the relation between IgG autoantibodies against human C-reactive protein (anti-CRP) and disease activity measures in serial serum samples from 10 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), of whom four had active kidney involvement during the study period. The presence of anti-CRP was analysed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The cut-off for positive anti-CRP test was set at the 95th centile of 100 healthy blood donor sera. Specificity of the anti-CRP antibody binding was evaluated by preincubating patient sera with either native or monomeric CRP. Disease activity was determined by the SLE disease activity index (SLEDAI), serum levels of CRP, anti-DNA antibodies, complement components and blood cell counts. Of 50 serum samples, 20 (40%) contained antibodies reactive with monomeric CRP, and 7 of 10 patients were positive on at least one occasion during the study. All patients with active lupus nephritis were positive for anti-CRP at flare. Frequent correlations between anti-CRP levels and disease activity measures were observed in anti-CRP-positive individuals. Accumulated anti-CRP data from all patients were positively correlated with SLEDAI scores and anti-DNA antibody levels, whereas significant inverse relationships were noted for complement factors C1q, C3 and C4, and for lymphocyte counts. This study confirms the high prevalence of anti-CRP autoantibodies in SLE and that the antibody levels are correlated with clinical and laboratory disease activity measures. This indicates that anti-CRP antibodies might have biological functions of pathogenetic interest in SLE. Further prospective clinical studies and experimental studies on effects mediated by anti-CRP antibodies are warranted.

Keywords:
autoantibodies; C-reactive protein; disease activity; SLEDAI; systemic lupus erythematosus