Objectives: To evaluate, in a cohort of 566 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) drawn from 11 European centres: (i) the prevalence of ANCAs and their subspecificities in a large series of European SLE patients; (ii) the possible associations of ANCA with the most common clinical manifestations of the disease; and (iii) whether ANCAs correlate with some of the autoantibodies commonly found in SLE.
Methods: ANCA detection was performed by indirect immunofluorescence (IIF), and by ELISA for lactoferrin (LF), myeloperoxydase (MPO), proteinase3 (PR3) and lysozyme (LZ) subspecificities.
Results: The prevalence of ANCA was 16.4% (IIF). The prevalence of LF was 14.3%, LZ 4.6%, MPO 9.3%, and PR3 1.7%. Our results show that ANCA is associated with certain clinical manifestations of SLE. In particular, positive correlations were found between IIF ANCA and serositis (p = 0.026), livedo reticularis (p = 0.01), venous thrombosis (p = 0.03) and arthritis (p = 0.04), while anti-LF antibodies were associated with serositis (p = 0.05) and livedo reticularis (p < 10(-3). Nevertheless, multivariate analysis demonstrated that other autoantibodies, such as aCL and SSA/Ro, are more closely correlated than ANCA with some of the aforementioned clinical features.
Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that ANCA are detectable in SLE sera and that some of them are associated with particular clinical manifestations. Whether ANCA plays a direct pathogenetic role in the vascular damage of SLE or only represents an epiphenomenon or a marker of disease activity remains to be elucidated.