Hypercatabolism of normal IgG; an unexplained immunoglobulin abnormality in the connective tissue diseases

J Clin Invest. 1970 Mar;49(3):454-64. doi: 10.1172/JCI106254.


The metabolism of radioiodinated IgG was studied in a series of 42 patients with connective tissue diseases (16 systemic lupus erythematosus, nine rheumatoid arthritis, five polymyositis, five vasculitis, and seven miscellaneous diagnoses). Fractional catabolic rates were increased and survival half-lives were shortened in all diagnostic categories indicating hypercatabolism of IgG. This hypercatabolism was masked by increased IgG synthesis, resulting in elevated serum concentrations of IgG in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis and in generally normal concentrations in the others. The metabolism of iodinated IgM was also studied in eight patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, in seven with rheumatoid arthritis, and in 12 controls. The fractional catabolic rates were normal in both groups of patients. Serum concentrations of both IgM and IgA were moderately elevated in all diagnostic categories. Serum albumin metabolism was entirely normal in the nine subjects studied who were not receiving corticosteroids; in three who were receiving them, moderate hypercatabolism was observed. The hypercatabolism of IgG could not be accounted for by factors previously known to alter IgG metabolism. It was not observed in 15 patients with other chronic, inflammatory diseases and was not explained by concomitant administration of adrenal corticosteroids to some patients. Identical results were obtained whether the IgG was obtained from a patient himself or from a normal donor, demonstrating that the hypercatabolism is a host defect and not an abnormality of the protein. Thus, patients with connective tissue disease of several different diagnostic categories have been shown to have an unexplained immunoglobulin abnormality: they catabolize normal IgG at an accelerated rate.

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism
  • Collagen Diseases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin G / biosynthesis
  • Immunoglobulin G / metabolism*
  • Immunoglobulin M / metabolism
  • Iodine Isotopes
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / metabolism
  • Myositis / metabolism
  • Serum Albumin / metabolism
  • Vascular Diseases / metabolism


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Iodine Isotopes
  • Serum Albumin