A patient with rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis, peripheral neuropathy, cutaneous ulceration, and digital gangrene was studied. Circulating immune complexes were detected by C1q binding although serum complement levels were within the normal range. Immunofluorescent staining of buffy coat cells with specific antisera showed the presence of IgG and IgM in phagocytosed inclusions but complement C3 was not detected. A monoclonal antibody specific for cytomegalovirus detected antigens in phagocytosed inclusions on one occasion. These results may suggest that cytomegalovirus antigens are a hitherto unidentified component of serum complexes in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and may contribute to the pathogenesis of the vasculitic complications of rheumatoid arthritis by participating in immune complex formation.
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