OBJECTIVES--Antibodies against C1q (C1qAb) have been demonstrated in the serum of patients with several immune complex diseases. Patients, particularly those with lupus nephritis, were found to have increased serum titres of IgG C1qAb in a cross-sectional analysis. In the present prospective study correlations were sought between serum titres of IgG C1qAb and clinical as well as laboratory parameters of disease activity in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). METHODS--Titres of IgG C1qAb in the serum of 68 SLE patients were measured serially during a three year period. At the same time clinical and laboratory parameters of disease activity were assessed. RESULTS--Increased titres of IgG C1qAb were found in the serum of 56% of SLE patients during the study. Significant correlations were found between increased titres of IgG C1qAb and renal involvement. Clinical signs of renal involvement were found to be associated with significant increases of serum titres of IgG C1qAb in the six months preceding this appearance. Fifty per cent of the increases in serum titres of IgG C1qAb were followed by the development of renal involvement. Elevated serum titres of IgG C1qAb were especially related to proliferative forms of glomerulonephritis. Furthermore, significant correlations were found between serum titres of IgG C1qAb and serum levels of immune complexes, levels of complement components, and titres of antibodies to DNA. CONCLUSIONS--The results suggest that IgG C1qAb play a pathogenic role in the development of lupus nephritis and that serial measurement of serum titres of IgG C1qAb is useful in the management of SLE patients.
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