Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCAs) constitute a new class of autoantibodies that seem to recognise myeloid lysosomal enzymes. The occurrence of ANCAs with specificity for human leucocyte elastase (HLE) was assessed in serum samples that were routinely submitted for ANCA determination. During a study period of more than six years anti-HLE was found in only six out of 1102 serum samples that produced a perinuclear or an atypical cytoplasmic staining pattern on ethanol fixed granulocytes. These six serum samples were from four patients with a clinical diagnosis of Wegener's granulomatosis but without a definite histological diagnosis, one patient with systemic vasculitis, and one patient with Cogan's syndrome. To further evaluate the prevalence of anti-HLE we tested 315 serum samples from patients with different forms of vasculitis and related disorders. Anti-HLE was detected in two patients only. Thus autoantibodies to HLE are rarely found in serum samples from patients with vasculitic or related disorders.
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