Intrathecal IgG synthesis and blood-brain barrier impairment in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and central nervous system dysfunction

Am J Med. 1983 May;74(5):837-44. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(83)91075-6.


Paired serum and cerebrospinal fluid specimens from 19 patients with SLE and central nervous system dysfunction were studied with respect to cerebrospinal fluid IgG index (a measure of intrathecal IgG synthesis), isoelectric focusing using immunoperoxidase staining techniques to detect oligoclonal IgG, and determination of the cerebrospinal fluid/serum albumin quotient (Q albumin) as a measure of blood-brain barrier integrity. Twenty-five patients without neurologic disease and 70 patients with a variety of non-SLE neurologic disorders were also studied for comparison. Of most interest was the observation that 42 percent of the patients with SLE had cerebrospinal fluid oligoclonal IgG, usually in association with elevation of the cerebrospinal fluid IgG index. In addition, two of the cerebrospinal fluid specimens that exhibited oligoclonal IgG also had increased titers of alpha-interferon. Q albumin was normal (under 9.0) in 12 of 13 patients with SLE, who had seizure, psychosis, or cranial neuropathy as principal central nervous system manifestations (mean +/- SD = 5.3 +/- 2.4), but was significantly elevated (mean +/- SD = 27.4 +/- 18.8, p less than 0.001) in five of six patients with diffuse, major central nervous system injury, for example, encephalopathy with coma, transverse myelopathy, paraparesis. Blood-brain barrier impairment was not correlated either with presence of circulating immune complexes or with other clinical or serologic evidence for extra-central nervous system disease activity. Taken together, the data suggest that, within the limitations of the techniques used, impairment of the blood-brain barrier in SLE may be secondary to the central nervous system lesion, rather than a result of systemic immune complex injury. In addition, substantial evidence is provided for an ongoing humoral immune response within the central nervous system in this disorder, which, in certain patients, may be associated with the production of intrathecal alpha-interferon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Albumins / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Blood-Brain Barrier*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / immunology
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin G / biosynthesis*
  • Immunoglobulin G / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Interferon Type I / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / metabolism
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology*
  • Serum Albumin / analysis


  • Albumins
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Interferon Type I
  • Serum Albumin