Autoantibody reactive with RNA polymerase III in systemic sclerosis

Ann Intern Med. 1993 Nov 15;119(10):1005-13. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-119-10-199311150-00007.


Objective: To determine the clinical significance of anti-RNA polymerase III antibody in systemic sclerosis (SSc).

Design: A point prevalence study of autoantibody to RNA polymerase III and longitudinal examination of its clinical significance in patients with SSc and in controls.

Setting: University medical center rheumatology practice.

Patients: Two hundred fifty-two consecutive new patients with SSc and 170 controls (150 patients with other connective tissue diseases and 20 normal volunteers).

Measurements: The presence of anti-RNA polymerase III antibody was determined by immunoprecipitation, immunoblotting, and immunodepletion studies.

Main results: Serum specimens from 57 of the 252 patients with SSc (23%; 95% CI, 18% to 28%) reacted with RNA polymerase III, compared with none of the specimens from 170 controls (0%; 95% CI, 0% to 2%). In 40 of these 57 specimens, immunoprecipitation studies also showed the presence of RNA polymerase I or II, or both. Anti-RNA polymerase III antibody was detected in sera from 50 of the 111 patients (45%) who had SSc with diffuse cutaneous involvement (dcSSc), 7 of 114 patients (6%) who had SSc with limited cutaneous involvement, and none of 27 patients with an SSc overlap syndrome (P < 0.001). Among patients with dcSSc, anti-RNA polymerase III antibody was more common than antitopoisomerase I antibody (45% compared with 27%; P = 0.008). Patients with anti-RNA polymerase III antibody had a statistically significant higher mean maximum skin thickness score but statistically significant lower frequencies of telangiectasias, inflammatory myopathy, restrictive lung disease, and serious cardiac abnormalities than did patients with antitopoisomerase I antibody.

Conclusion: Anti-RNA polymerase III antibody is a new marker autoantibody for many patients who have SSc with diffuse or extensive cutaneous involvement.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / blood*
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Precipitin Tests
  • RNA Polymerase III / immunology*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Autoantibodies
  • Biomarkers
  • RNA Polymerase III