Background Systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by immune system disruption with autoantibodies production. One of the upregulated autoantibodies is the specific to the Ro antigen, a ribonucleoprotein associated to a small RNA, constituted by the 52KDa and 60 KDa polypeptides, whose epitopes are mainly conformational. The routine detection method for anti-Ro is an enzyme immunoassay, however, is possible to obtain false-negatives for anti-Ro and this could be avoided by analyzing both subunits separately.
Objectives To identify false-negatives for anti-Ro by analyzing both 52KDa and 60 KDa subunits separately, as well as to characterize if there are clinical or molecular differences in this subgroup of patients compared to anti-Ro negative cases.
Methods A cross-sectional, observational study of patients diagnosed of SLE according to SLICC 2012 criteria was performed. In these patients a complete blood-test was made, and clinical data by personal interview was collected. INF1A, Anti-Ro, anti-Ro52KDa and anti-Ro60KDa levels where measured by colorimetric methods. Biostatistical analysis was performed with R 3.3.2.
Results We selected 69 SLE patients with negative results for anti-Ro (2.34±4.17 U/mL) out of 142 total SLE patients. A total of 51 patients were negative for both anti-Ro subunits and 18 cases presented positive results (up to 20 pg/mL) for at least one of them. The subgroup of patients that exhibit simultaneously high levels of anti-Ro52KDa and anti-Ro60KDa have higher clinical activity compared to negative anti-Ro cases (75% of active patients against 41.2% in anti-Ro negative patients). However, no differences in the accumulated damage evaluated by SLICC score between negative anti-Ro cases and patients with at least one positive subunit were observed. We analyze serum levels of INF1A cytokine in the four groups of patients, and anti-Ro and subunits negative cases showed significant lower INF1A levels than the other patients (8.26±14.87 pg/mL and 26.62±40.71 pg/mL respectively; P=0.04). In addition, patients with high levels of anti-Ro52KDa subunit are those with the highest INF1A levels (anti-Ro 52+/anti-Ro60- 23.5±47.6pg/mL of INF1A; anti-Ro 52+/anti-Ro60+ 36.4±37.9pg/mL of INF1A).
Conclusions In our anti-Ro seronegative patients, a 26% of false-negative cases were detected. These cases with high levels of almost one anti-Ro subunit showed significantly higher levels of INF1A in contrast to negative cases, supporting the fact that they are indeed a different group from the negative cases. Moreover, the high INF1A levels could be the reason of the observed differences in the clinical activity measured by SLEDAI score in both groups.
Disclosure of Interest None declared