Objective: To study antibodies directed against ribosomal P proteins, a sensitive and specific marker of depression and psychosis in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), in pediatric patients with SLE.
Methods: One hundred six serum samples were obtained from 79 patients with SLE. Sixty age- and sex-matched control sera were obtained, and 12 samples were obtained from children with primary psychosis. Antibodies to recombinant ribosomal P (rRP) protein were detected using a standard enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Results: All 12 children with non-SLE-associated psychosis had normal levels of anti-rRP antibodies. Elevated levels of anti-rRP were found in 11 of 64 pediatric SLE patients without a history of psychosis (17%). In the group of 13 SLE patients with psychosis, 5 (38%) had increased anti-rRP antibody levels during the time of acute psychosis, and which significantly decreased during remission. In addition, most of the SLE patients without a history of psychosis had a good correlation between anti-rRP antibody levels and disease activity. The patients with psychosis had significantly less renal involvement than the patients without a history of psychosis. This apparent protection from renal disease was not related to the presence or absence of either antiribosomal P or anti-DNA antibodies.
Conclusion: Elevated serum levels of antibodies to ribosomal P protein can distinguish SLE-associated psychosis from primary psychosis of childhood. In SLE, elevated antiribosomal P antibody levels were not specific for psychosis. Serial assays were useful for monitoring the disease activity.