In a study of 66 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and 80 controls it was found that the presence of two deficiency (null) alleles of C4 had a significant effect on mean C4 concentrations in serum. In six controls who each had two C4 null alleles the mean C4 concentration in serum was 56% lower than in 43 controls without C4 null alleles; the nadir of the C4 concentration in four patients with SLE with two null alleles was also lower by a mean of 55% than in 32 patients who did not have null alleles. Reduced production of C4 allotypes in subjects with two null alleles may be an important determinant of total C4 concentration in patients with SLE. For optimal interpretation of C4 concentrations in SLE, C4 allotyping appears to be indicated, particularly to identify patients who have two null alleles of C4.
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