Anti-neutrophil cytoplasm antibodies in rheumatoid arthritis

Clin Exp Immunol. 1991 Oct;86(1):92-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.1991.tb05779.x.


Anti-neutrophil cytoplasm antibodies (ANCA) occur occasionally in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but their incidence and clinical significance have been unclear. In this study we have investigated 58 patients with RA. In 22 patients the disease was inactive and the remaining 36 with active disease were further subdivided into those without clinical evidence of vasculitis (26), those with cutaneous vasculitis (8) and those with systemic vasculitis (2). ANCA were demonstrated by indirect immunofluorescence in 10 of the 58 patients (17%). While both perinuclear (pANCA) and cytoplasmic (cANCA) staining were detected, pANCA were more common (70%). Neutrophil-specific anti-nuclear antibodies (ANNA) were demonstrated in a further eight sera (14%) and ANA were detected on Hep-2 cells in 30 of the 58 sera (52%). ELISAs for the detection of anti-myeloperoxidase and anti-elastase antibodies were then established. Five sera with pANCA and five that contained ANNA were negative for both anti-myeloperoxidase and anti-elastase antibodies, suggesting other as yet unidentified cytoplasmic antigens as the target molecules. However, anti-myeloperoxidase or anti-elastase antibodies were found in four sera that had homogeneous or speckled ANA on both Hep-2 cells and neutrophils. One serum contained both antibodies. The presence of ANCA detected by indirect immunofluorescence or of anti-myeloperoxidase or anti-elastase antibodies in these patients with RA was not associated with disease activity nor with the demonstration of cutaneous vasculitis or renal disease (P NS). A possible association with systemic vasculitis remains to be confirmed. There is an incomplete correlation between indirect immunofluorescence patterns and antibody specificity in ELISA systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / immunology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Autoantigens / chemistry
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cytoplasm / immunology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / complications
  • Molecular Weight
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Pancreatic Elastase / immunology
  • Peroxidase / immunology
  • Vasculitis / complications


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Autoantigens
  • Peroxidase
  • Pancreatic Elastase