Sm antigen was purified by immunoaffinity chromatography using a murine monoclonal anti-Sm antibody and was confirmed to be free from contaminating polypeptides. This was then used to detect anti-Sm antibodies in patients' sera by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Antibodies against Sm were detected in only 9/52 (17%) patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) by immunodiffusion, but 15/52 (29%) were positive for IgG anti-Sm antibodies by ELISA. The presence of anti-Sm antibodies remained disease specific despite the increase in sensitivity of this assay and validates its potential use for clinical application. There was no correlation between the presence of anti-Sm antibodies and any clinical features of SLE. In 23 renal biopsies a membranous component to the glomerulonephritis correlated with anti-Sm antibodies (p less than 0.05). Patients from West Africa, the Carribean Islands, and Asia had a higher prevalence of anti-Sm antibodies than the local Caucasian population.
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