Patients with subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE) have recurrent annular and/or psoriasiphorm skin lesions, with or without systemic disease.
Objective: To analyse the clinical expression and the Ro/SS-A response associated with SCLE in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: 128 consecutive patients with SLE were studied. Anti-Ro/SS-A antibodies were detected by ELISA, (anti-60 kD Ro/SSA antibodies), immunoblotting (anti-60 kD and anti-52 kD Ro/SS-A antibodies) and counterimmunoelectrophoresis (CIE).
Results: Seventeen patients (13.2%) showed SCLE lesions. Photosensitivity was more frequent in patients with SCLE (82%) than in patients without these cutaneous lesions (45%) (OR: 5.6). Arthritis (OR: 6.3), Raynaud's phenomenon (OR: 4.9), pleuritis (OR: 7.6), central nervous system disorder (OR: 6.4), renal disease (OR: 6.3), anemia (OR: 7.9), hypocomplementemia (OR: 6.1) and anti-dsDNA antibodies (OR: 12.7) were significantly more frequent in patients without SCLE. Anti-Ro/SS-A antibodies were detected in 15 (88.2%) patients with SCLE and 62 (55.8%) patients without SCLE by ELISA, in 10 (58.8%) and 34 (30.6%) patients by immunoblotting, and in 13 (76.4%) and 34 (30.6%) by CIE, respectively. Anti-60 kD-Ro/SS-A and anti-La antibodies, but not anti-52 kD-Ro/SS-A, were significantly more frequent in patients with SCLE than in patients without SCLE.
Conclusions: The presence of SCLE lesions in patients with SLE is associated with a more favourable prognosis. The major anti-Ro/SS-A response is directed against the native 60 kD Ro/SS-A protein.