The sera of 21 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 11 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and 20 healthy subjects were analysed for the presence of IgE in immune complex fractions. These fractions were isolated by polyethylene glycol precipitation and gel filtration. Thirteen sera from RA patients contained IgE immune complexes (IC) and 11 of these were from patients with extra-articular manifestations. One SLE and none of the control sera contained such material. The serum IgE level did not correlate with IgE content of the IC fractions. Higher mean serum IgE levels were found in RA patients with extra-articular complications than in controls or RA patients with joint disease only, but the differences did not reach statistical significance. IgE anti-rabbit IgG (IgE rheumatoid factors) could be demonstrated in some IgE positive IC fractions. Antibodies to IgE, in 2 instances characterised as belonging to IgG class, were also found in ICs. This suggests the presence of anti IgE complexes. It is suggested that IgE, including some with rheumatoid factor activity, is contained in complexes which may be involved in some extra-articular manifestations of RA.
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