To test the hypothesis that rheumatoid factor (RF) protects against (immune complex mediated) renal disease, patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA; 48 with nephropathy of various types, 35 without renal disease) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE; 35 with and 17 without nephritis) were evaluated for the presence and titre of RF. There was no correlation between RF and nephropathy in RA, whereas in SLE RFs were almost exclusively seen in patients without nephropathy. This result supports the above hypothesis for lupus nephropathy but not for RA associated renal disease, and it may be explained by a more pronounced role for immune complexes in SLE and interference of RFs with the complexes.
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