Objective: To investigate the clinical significance of anti-nucleosome antibodies in SLE patients lacking anti-double stranded DNA (dsDNA) antibodies.
Methods: IgG anti-nucleosome antibodies were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) in the sera of SLE patients. Anti-dsDNA antibodies were measured by Farr assays and ELISA, not only in the samples taken for anti-nucleosome testing, but also in sera obtained regularly during the follow-up.
Results: Ninety-eight (76.0%) out of 129 patients with SLE had anti-nucleosome antibodies. Twenty-five patients (19.4%) consistently showed little or no anti-dsDNA reactivity during the course of their disease, and among these anti-nucleosome antibodies were present in the sera of 15 (60.0%). Of the patients with anti-dsDNA-negative SLE, renal disorders were present in 8 patients (32.0%), all of whom had anti-nucleosome antibodies. Renal disorders were not found in patients (n = 10) who had neither anti-dsDNA nor anti-nucleosome antibodies. Other autoantibodies such as anti-Ro, anti-Sm and anti-cardiolipin were not associated with renal disorders in this group. The levels of anti-nucleosome antibody strongly correlated with the SLEDAI scores, but inversely correlated with serum complement levels in anti-dsDNA negative SLE patients.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that the anti-nucleosome antibody may be a useful marker for diagnosis and activity assessment of anti-dsDNA negative SLE. Anti-nucleosome antibody may be an important factor for renal involvement in this subgroup of patients.