Objective: To investigate the presence and clinical significance of anti-Scl-70 antibodies in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: Levels of antibodies against Scl-70 were determined by a commercial clinical enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) during routine evaluation. Results were verified by an additional ELISA with a characterized bovine Scl-70, by ELISA with a recombinant human topoisomerase I, by Western blot, and by double diffusion in agar gel. Disease activity was estimated retrospectively by the Systemic Lupus Activity Measure (SLAM).
Results: Of 128 consecutive SLE patients, 25% were positive for anti-Scl-70 antibody; this antibody activity was cognate in nature. No SLE patient could be classified as also having systemic sclerosis. The levels of anti-Scl-70 were significantly correlated with the SLAM score for the entire cohort (r = 0.563, P < 0.001) and for 7 individual patients with multiple longitudinal measurements (r = 0.755-0.951, P < 0.001; n = 6) (r = 0.378, P < 0.05; n = 1). A significant correlation was also found between the levels of anti-Scl-70 and anti-double-stranded DNA antibodies (r = 0.558, P < 0.001). Patients with anti-Scl-70 had significantly higher risk of pulmonary hypertension (P < 0.01) and renal involvement (P < 0.001) than patients without this antibody.
Conclusion: Anti-Scl-70 antibody is present in a significant subset of patients with SLE. For this subset, it offers a good correlate of disease activity and suggests increased risk for pulmonary hypertension and nephritis.