Antibodies to nuclear antigens were assessed in 23 children with juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA) and 66 of their first degree relatives. Serum samples from 16 patients with JCA (70%) and nine relatives (14%) had antinuclear antibodies by indirect immunofluorescence. Antibodies against nuclear antigens in rabbit thymus extract or an erythroblastoid cell line (K562) were detected by countercurrent immunoelectrophoresis and immunoblotting in 16 patients (70%) and 39 family relatives (59%). Immunoblotting did not show any banding patterns common to all patients with JCA, though bands in the 43-45 kD range were detected in 5/23 patients. Anticardiolipin antibodies were found in 7/23 patients. In total, 18/20 families (90%) had members other than the probands with detectable autoantibodies. In five families immunoblotting showed common banding patterns between the probands and other members. This suggests that there might be an inherited trend towards autoimmune responses in some families of patients with JCA.
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