Background: C3 hypocomplementemia and the presence of C3 nephritic factor (C3NeF), an autoantibody causing complement system over-activation, are common features among most patients affected by Barraquer-Simons syndrome (BSS), an acquired form of partial lipodystrophy. Moreover, BSS is frequently associated with autoimmune diseases. However, the relationship between complement system dysregulation and BSS remains to be fully elucidated. The aim of this study was to provide a comprehensive immunological analysis of the complement system status, autoantibody signatures and HLA profile in BSS. Thirteen subjects with BSS were recruited for the study. The circulating levels of complement components, C3, C4, Factor B (FB) and Properdin (P), as well as an extended autoantibody profile including autoantibodies targeting complement components and regulators were assessed in serum. Additionally, HLA genotyping was carried out using DNA extracted from peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
Results: C3, C4 and FB levels were significantly reduced in patients with BSS as compared with healthy subjects. C3NeF was the most frequently found autoantibody (69.2% of cases), followed by anti-C3 (38.5%), and anti-P and anti-FB (30.8% each). Clinical data showed high prevalence of autoimmune diseases (38.5%), the majority of patients (61.5%) being positive for at least one of the autoantibodies tested. The HLA allele DRB1*11 was present in 54% of BSS patients, and the majority of them (31%) were positive for *11:03 (vs 1.3% in the general population).
Conclusions: Our results confirmed the association between BSS, autoimmunity and C3 hypocomplementemia. Moreover, the finding of autoantibodies targeting complement system proteins points to complement dysregulation as a central pathological event in the development of BSS.
Keywords: Acquired partial lipodystrophy; Autoimmunity; Barraquer-Simons syndrome; C3 nephritic factor; Complement system; Lipodystrophy.