Objectives The pathogenesis of axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) is still unclear. There is a strong association with HLA-B27 and other genes. Recently, anti-CD74 antibodies with specificity to a class II-associated invariant chain peptide (anti-CLIP-ABs) were found in axSpA patients. We examined the prevalence, sensitivity and specificity of anti-CLIP-ABs in axSpA in comparison with controls.
Methods Sera of axSpA and non-SpA patients were analysed for IgG-antibodies against CD74 by ELISA with specificity for CLIP developed in cooperation with AESKU Diagnostics (Germany). A cut-off of ≥4 SDs of arbitrary units (AU) from mean serum levels was used to differentiate the results. The laboratory workers were completely blinded for clinical data.
Results We analysed 145 sera from 94 axSpA and 51 non-SpA patients. AxSpA patients were more often male and younger. HLA-B27 status was available in 72 patients. Anti-CLIP-ABs were detected in 85.1% in axSpA but in only 7.8% in non-SpA patients (p≤0.0001). AxSpA patients showed higher levels of anti-CLIP-ABs versus non-SpA: mean 14.5 versus 0.8 AU (p≤0.0001). The sensitivity of anti-CLIP-ABs for diagnosing axSpA was 85.1%, specificity 92.2%, likelihood ratio (LR) LR+ was 10.8 and LR− was 0.08. Anti-CLIP-ABs and HLA-B27 were positive in 87.5% patients with axSpA, but only 14.9% were anti-CLIP-negative, while 23.6% were HLA-B27-negative.
Conclusions Anti-CLIP antibodies were strongly associated with axSpA. The LR for confirming axSpA by using anti-CLIP was even higher than by using HLA-B27. More studies using this promising new method in patients with non-radiographic axial SpA or peripheral SpA are needed to establish its usefulness in clinical practice.
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