Autoantibodies in systemic sclerosis

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2005 Aug;35(1):35-42. doi: 10.1016/j.semarthrit.2005.03.005.


Objectives: To describe the clinical, laboratory, and prognostic features associated with the scleroderma-specific autoantibodies.

Methods: Using the Pittsburgh Scleroderma Databank, all consecutive patients seen between 1980 and 1995 who had autoantibody studies performed were studied. Anticentromere antibodies (ACA), antitopoisomerase (TOPO), anti-U1-RNP (U1-RNP), anti-RNA Polymerase III (Pol 3), anti-U3-RNP (U3-RNP), anti-Th/To (Th/To), and anti-Pm/Scl (Pm/Scl) were determined according to previously described methods. The frequency of clinical features, organ system outcomes, and survival within the patients with a specific antibody were cumulative over the course of the disease. The frequency of a specific feature was compared across groups to identify significant manifestations and outcomes in patients with a specific antibody.

Results: Some demographic, clinical, and organ system findings were associated with the specific antibody, and other features with the scleroderma subtype (limited cutaneous or diffuse cutaneous scleroderma). U3-RNP, U1-RNP, and TOPO were seen more commonly in African-American patients, and ACA was seen in older, female Caucasians. Muscle inflammation was seen in patients with U1-RNP and U3-RNP. Digital tip ulcers and digital tuft resorption were seen more frequently in those with ACA and TOPO. A vasculopathy causing pulmonary hypertension typically occurs with ACA and pulmonary fibrosis with TOPO; however, both types of lung disease were seen in patients with nucleolar antibodies, Th/To and U3-RNP. Importantly, severe interstitial fibrosis was rarely seen in cases with Pol 3. Renal crisis was strongly associated with Pol 3. Survival within limited scleroderma was decreased in the Th/To patients compared with ACA patients. Within the diffuse scleroderma group, patients with Pol 3 had the best survival.

Conclusions: Scleroderma autoantibodies are associated with very specific demographic, clinical, organ system, and survival features.

Relevance: The determination of scleroderma autoantibodies may be helpful in assessing the prognosis, monitoring, and treatment of scleroderma patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / diagnosis*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / immunology*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / mortality
  • Survival Rate


  • Autoantibodies