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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2001 Jan;12(1):134-42.

Silica exposure in anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody-associated glomerulonephritis and lupus nephritis.

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Department of Medicine, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 27599-7155, USA.


Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA)-associated small-vessel vasculitis (SVV) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are rare diseases with unknown causes. Silica dust exposure has been suggested to be an environmental factor that may increase the risk of developing these and other autoimmune disorders. This is a report of two case-control studies to determine whether silica dust exposure is independently associated with ANCA-SVV with glomerulonephritis and SLE nephritis. Patients were screened through a collaborative network of 225 private practice and university nephrologists (the Glomerular Disease Collaborative Network). Patients with ANCA-SVV or SLE, all with biopsy-proven renal involvement, were included. Control subjects were patients without ANCA-SVV or SLE who had been referred to the same renal clinics and were matched for gender, race, and age (within 5 yr). Exposures to silica, exposures to other environmental agents, and smoking histories were evaluated using a self-administered questionnaire. Enrollment consisted of 65 patients with ANCA-SVV and 51 patients with SLE nephritis. Silica dust exposure was reported by 46% of patients with ANCA-SVV, compared with 20% of control subjects (P = 0.001). The odds ratio of silica dust exposure was 4.4 times greater for patients with ANCA-SVV, compared with control subjects (95% confidence interval, 1.36 to 13.4; P = 0.013). The odds ratios for silica dust exposure were similar for patients with ANCA-SVV with lung or sinus vasculitis (odds ratio, 4.5; 95% confidence interval, 0.99 to 20.83; P = 0.054) and those without lung or sinus vasculitis (odds ratio, 4.7; 95% confidence interval, 1.34 to 16.24; P = 0.016). Silica dust exposure was reported by 12% of patients with SLE nephritis, compared with 25% of control subjects (P = 0.047). The odds ratio for exposure to silica dust was not statistically different for patients with SLE nephritis, compared with control subjects (odds ratio, 0.001; 95% confidence interval, <0.01 to >100; P = 0.993). Activities and environments known to cause high levels of exposure to silica dust were associated with ANCA-SVV but not with SLE nephritis.

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