An immunological study was made of the placentae from 5 mothers with lupus erythematosus. 3 of the 5 mothers had anti-DNA antibodies in their sera at the time of delivery and in one of these anti-DNA antibodies were detected in the cord blood. This patient had active renal disease and serological evidence suggestive of circulating immune complexes in her blood at the time of delivery. Immunofluorescence studies showed granular deposition of immunoglobulin and C3 on the trophoblast basement membrane similar to that previously described on the glomerular basement membrane in systemic lupus erythematosus. Anti-DNA antibodies were eluted from the placenta in this case. We suggest that immune complex deposition on the trophoblast basement membrane in patients with active systemic lupus erythematosus may play a part in the increased fetal mortality in this disease.
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