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Am J Med. 1999 May;106(5):527-33.

Serial measurements of antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies in patients with systemic vasculitis.

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Department of Nephrology, Internal Medicine, Centre Hospitalier de Valenciennes, France.



To assess the value of serial determinations of antineutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies (ANCA) for monitoring disease activity in patients with systemic vasculitis.


Forty-three patients with histologically proven vasculitis (21 with Wegener's granulomatosis, 17 with microscopic polyangiitis, and 5 with renal-limited vasculitis) were studied for a median follow-up of 22 months. Disease activity was prospectively assessed and quantified by the Birmingham Vasculitis Activity Score. A total of 347 sera were analyzed for ANCA determination.


Relapses occurred in 23 (54%) of 43 patients. Diagnostic category (Wegener's granulomatosis vs micropolyangiitis and renal-limited vasculitis), severity of initial symptoms (mean vasculitis activity score, mean number of organs involved), and ANCA pattern [cytoplasmic-ANCA (c-ANCA) vs perinuclear-ANCA (p-ANCA)] did not significantly differ between relapsers and nonrelapsers. Lung involvement was more frequent at onset among relapsers [16 of 23 (70%) vs 6 of 20 (30%); P = 0.02]. Relapses were slightly, but not significantly, more frequent in patients with Wegener's granulomatosis or a c-ANCA pattern. The percentage of relapsers was greater in patients with persistently positive ANCA than in patients with negative or decreasing ANCA titers (86% vs 20%, P = 0.0001). However, the predictive value of an increase in ANCA titers for the occurrence of a subsequent relapse was only 28% (4 of 14) for c-ANCA, 12% (2 of 17) for anti-proteinase 3-ANCA, and 43% (6 of 14) for anti-myeloperoxidase-ANCA. An increase in ANCA occurred before or during relapse in 33% (10 of 30) of cases for c-ANCA/anti-proteinase 3 antibodies, and 73% (11 of 15) of cases for anti-myeloperoxidase antibodies.


The persistence of ANCA positivity is strongly associated with relapses. However, an increase in ANCA titers has a poor value for the early prediction of a subsequent relapse and should not be used as a sole parameter for therapeutic intervention. In addition, our results suggest that serial anti-myeloperoxidase determination may be useful as a prognostic marker in patients who are p-ANCA positive.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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