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J Autoimmun. 1999 Aug;13(1):111-9.

DNA levels in circulating immune complexes decrease at severe SLE flares-correlation with complement component C1q.

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Department of Rheumatology, University Hospital of Lund, Lund, Sweden.


The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship of DNA content in circulating immune complexes with disease course and activity in SLE. The DNA content in circulating immune complexes containing anti-DNA antibodies of IgG class was determined in serial samples from 28 patients with SLE by a quantitative immunochemical assay. The patients presented various active disease manifestations over 5-55 months. Disease activity (SLEDAI-score), drug treatment and ACR-criteria were recorded. Levels of anti-dsDNA, CRP, leukocytes, complement components C3, C4 and C1q were measured. Patients with severe flares and high SLEDAI scores had low Clq levels at onset of active disease manifestations. The patients with low C1q serum levels during flare (n=13) had significantly lower amounts of DNA in immune complexes than patients with normal Clq (P=0.001). Levels of DNA in immune complexes correlated with Clq at flares (r=0.62, P<0.0001) and correlated inversely with SLEDAI scores (r=-0.47, P=0.012). In conclusion, the low levels of DNA in circulating immune complexes found in severely ill SLE patients with concomitantly low serum concentrations of Clq prior to flares might be related to tissue deposition of immune complexes.

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