Patients with juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA) may be subdivided into a minority, who carry IgM rheumatoid factor and have erosive polyarthritis resembling adult rheumatoid arthritis, and the majority (90%), who are seronegative by conventional means. Between 30 and 60% of patients with JCA have positive antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) according to the choice of substrate for indirect immunofluorescence. The importance of ANAs is the frequent development of associated asymptomatic chronic iridocyclitis, which may impair vision causing worse handicap than the arthritis, which remains predominantly pauciarticular in two thirds of these young children. ANA positive patients rarely possess antibodies to deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) or extractable nuclear antigens (ENA), and current studies suggest that several different nuclear antigens, including histones, may be involved.
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