Autoimmune reactivity to malondialdehyde adducts in systemic lupus erythematosus is associated with disease activity and nephritis

Arthritis Res Ther. 2018 Feb 26;20(1):36. doi: 10.1186/s13075-018-1530-2.


Background: Immunoglobulin M (IgM) autoreactivity to malondialdehyde (MDA) protein modifications is part of the natural antibody repertoire in health and may have beneficial functions. In contrast, IgG anti-MDA are increased in chronic inflammation and autoimmunity and may instead have pathogenic properties.

Methods: Herein, we investigated serum IgG anti-MDA levels by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in 398 systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients in the Swedish Karolinska SLE cohort and compared these to findings in 225 US SLE patients from New York University and Johns Hopkins University.

Results: In two independent cohorts, IgG anti-MDA levels correlated positively with disease activity by the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI; p < 0.0001, Spearman R = 0.3). Meta-analysis found an odds ratio of 2.7 (confidence interval (CI) 1.9-3.9; p < 0.0001) for high anti-MDA IgG levels with active disease (SLEDAI ≥ 6). Furthermore, IgG anti-MDA correlated directly with erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP), soluble tumor necrosis factor receptors (sTNFR-1, sTNFR-2), and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) measurements, and inversely with complement factors (C1q, C2, C3, C4). Importantly, IgG anti-MDA levels were significantly elevated in SLE patients with active nephritis (p = 0.0005) and correlated with cystatin C estimated glomerular filtration rate and albuminuria.

Conclusions: Elevated IgG anti-MDA in SLE patients was associated with high disease activity, with active lupus nephritis, and with biomarkers of systemic inflammation. This natural antibody reactivity may have potential prognostic utility, and may also actively contribute to pathogenesis.

Keywords: Autoantibodies; Disease activity; Lupus nephritis; MDA; Malondialdehyde protein modification; Natural antibodies; SLE.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Autoimmunity / immunology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / blood
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / pathology
  • Lupus Nephritis / immunology*
  • Male
  • Malondialdehyde / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Autoantibodies
  • Biomarkers
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Malondialdehyde