Objective: In this study we describe clinical and immunogenetic findings in 62 unselected patients with relapsing polychondritis.
Methods: In a multicenter study, clinical data of 26 (41.9%) female and 36 (58.1%) male patients were collected. HLA-DR specificities were identified in 60, and the frequencies were compared with those in healthy controls.
Results: The median age at the time of diagnosis was 46.6 years (range 17 to 86). 58 (93.5%) patients had auricular chondritis, 31 (50.0%) ocular symptoms, 35 (56.5%) nasal involvement. Involvement of joints (53.2%), respiratory system (30.6%), skin (24.2%), cardiovascular system (22.6%), central nervous system (9.7%), and kidneys (6.5%) was found as well. 22 (35.5%) patients had associated diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus or rheumatoid arthritis. Susceptibility to relapsing polychondritis was significantly associated with HLA-DR4 (p < 0.001). There was no difference in the frequency or distribution of DRB1*04 subtype alleles between patients and healthy controls. The extent of organ involvement was negatively associated with HLA-DR6 (p < 0.011).
Conclusion: Immunogenetic findings as well as similarities and overlapping clinical symptoms with other autoimmune or rheumatic diseases suggest that immunological mechanisms play a major role in the pathogenesis of relapsing polychondritis.