Antibodies to type II collagen in relapsing polychondritis

N Engl J Med. 1978 Nov 30;299(22):1203-7. doi: 10.1056/NEJM197811302992202.


Relapsing polychondritis is a disorder of unknown cause characterized by the destruction of cartilage. To test the hypothesis that immunologic mechanisms are involved in the pathogenesis of relapsing polychondritis, we analyzed the serum of 15 patients for the presence of antibodies to cartilage. Antibodies to Type II (cartilage) collagen were found in the serum of five patients at the time of acute symptoms. No antibodies were detected either to cartilage proteoglycan or to other collagen types. The antibodies were detected at the onset of the disease and their titers appeared to correlate with severity of disease. Circulating immune complexes were also detected in the serum of these patients. Our findings support an immunologic involvement in this condition.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Autoantibodies / analysis*
  • Cartilage / immunology*
  • Collagen / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing / etiology
  • Polychondritis, Relapsing / immunology*
  • Proteoglycans / immunology


  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Autoantibodies
  • Proteoglycans
  • Collagen