Objective: To determine the utility of anti-extractable nuclear antigen (anti-ENA) antibodies detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay as a predictor for the diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: Among 2,185 serum samples sent for testing for antinuclear antibodies (ANA) by indirect immunofluorescence, 259 consecutive patients with positive ANA were identified. Medical charts of these patients were reviewed to assess the clinical diagnosis, with the reviewer having no knowledge of the anti-ENA result. Clinical data were abstracted for all patients, and diagnoses established using American College of Rheumatology criteria. The utility of ENA antibodies in the diagnosis of SLE was determined by univariate and multivariate analysis among all patients who were positive for ANA, patients who were positive for ANA and for anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA), and patients who were positive for ANA and negative for anti-dsDNA. Clinical differences between SLE patients with and those without anti-ENA antibodies were assessed.
Results: Anti-ENA antibodies, especially anti-Ro/SS-A, showed strong predictive diagnostic value among ANA+/anti-dsDNA- patients, but were of no utility among ANA+/anti-dsDNA+ patients. The only clinical manifestations that were more common among anti-ENA+ SLE patients were pleuritis and the use of hydroxychloroquine.
Conclusion: The presence of anti-ENA antibodies, especially anti-Ro/SS-A, is a useful predictor for the diagnosis of SLE, primarily among patients attending a referral rheumatology center who are positive for ANA and negative for anti-dsDNA. No major clinical differences were noted among ANA+ SLE patients with versus those without ENA.