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Clin Exp Immunol. Jun 1995; 100(3): 499–505.
PMCID: PMC1534456

Autoantibody response to the Ro/La particle may predict outcome in neonatal lupus erythematosus.


This study was undertaken to determine the role of antibodies against both recombinant Ro (r-Ro) and La (r-La) proteins and polypeptides derived from the recombinant La protein in predicting fetal and neonatal outcome in children at risk to develop neonatal lupus erythematosus (NLE). All sera were obtained in the perinatal period and quantitative ELISA assays were used. We collected 41 maternal sera within 2 months of delivery of a child with NLE (21 with congenital heart disease block (CHB) and 20 with dermatologic NLE) and 19 sera from anti-Ro and/or anti-La antibody-positive mothers with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who delivered a child without NLE. All sera were tested for anti-r-La and anti-r-Ro antibodies by ELISA, and most sera were tested for antibodies directed against La polypeptides by immunoblot. We found significantly higher anti-r-La antibody levels in the sera from mothers of children with NLE compared with sera from mothers of unaffected children (0.67 +/- 0.43 versus 0.14 +/- 0.30; P < 0.0001). There was a statistically significant difference in the mean anti-r-La levels between the sera of mothers of children with CHB compared with dermatologic NLE (0.51 +/- 0.45 versus 0.83 +/- 0.37 respectively; P = 0.0091). When we examined antibodies directed against the recombinant 52-kD Ro protein, there was a statistically significant elevation of titres in the sera of mothers of NLE children (0.77 +/- 0.35) compared with non-NLE mothers (0.29 +/- 0.39; P < 0.0001). There was no difference in the r-Ro levels between mothers of children with dermatologic NLE compared with CHB (0.82 +/- 0.37 versus 0.71 +/- 0.74; P = 0.32). When we examined polypeptides derived from the recombinant La protein, the mean number of polypeptides recognized by sera from mothers of children with NLE was significantly higher than the mean number of polypeptides recognized by sera from mothers of unaffected children (5.1 +/- 0.54 versus 2.3 +/- 0.54 respectively; P < 0.001). More importantly, when we examined the individual polypeptides, we found that only sera from mothers of children with NLE and not from mothers of unaffected children recognized a polypeptide designated DD (30% versus 0%, respectively). These studies indicate that the autoantibody response to the Ro/La particle can differentiate sera from mothers of children with NLE and sera from mothers of unaffected children. Furthermore, there was a difference in the anti-La autoantibody response between mothers of children with CHB and dermatologic NLE.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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