Background: Perinuclear anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (p-ANCA) have been regarded as a possible immunogenetic marker of ulcerative colitis. If this were true, the p-ANCA status of a given patient should be constant over time; however, little information is available on this issue.
Methods: One hundred and forty-five sera collected from 40 ulcerative colitis patients during a mean follow-up period of 50.6 months were tested for p-ANCA reactivity by indirect immunofluorescence.
Results: At base line 24 patients (60%) were p-ANCA-positive, with no relationship to gender distribution, age at diagnosis, disease activity, or extension. During follow-up, changes in p-ANCA status occurred in 10 patients (25%). P-ANCA positivity during follow-up was associated with more aggressive forms of disease, whereas p-ANCA negativity was associated with stable remission.
Conclusions: Changes in the p-ANCA status over time occur in some ulcerative colitis patients. P-ANCA behaviour is associated with different clinical patterns of disease.