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Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Jun;44(6):1313-9.

Elevated serum B lymphocyte stimulator levels in patients with systemic immune-based rheumatic diseases.

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1
Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center, University of Southern California, 90033, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether serum levels of B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS) are elevated in patients with systemic immune-based rheumatic diseases and correlate with serum Ig levels and/or autoantibody titers.

METHODS:

Sera from 185 patients with various systemic immune-based rheumatic diseases (95 with systemic lupus erythematosus [SLE], 67 with rheumatoid arthritis [RA], 23 with other diagnoses) were assayed for BLyS and Ig. In 7 patients who required arthrocentesis of a swollen knee, coincident serum and synovial fluid samples were assayed for BLyS. Medical charts were retrospectively reviewed for elevated autoantibody titers and proteinuria within a 1-month period before or after collection of sera for BLyS and Ig determination. Sera concurrently collected from 48 normal healthy subjects served as controls.

RESULTS:

Serum BLyS levels were elevated in 38 of 185 patients (21%) and correlated significantly with serum IgG levels. Serum BLyS levels did not correlate with the patients' age, sex, race, or medications, but correlated positively with anti-double-stranded DNA antibody titers among SLE patients and with rheumatoid factor titers among seropositive RA patients. In contrast, serum BLyS levels correlated inversely with nephrotic-range proteinuria among SLE patients. In every case tested, BLyS levels in clinically inflamed synovial fluids were greater than those in simultaneously obtained sera.

CONCLUSION:

BLyS may be an important factor in driving polyclonal hypergammaglobulinemia and elevated autoantibody titers in patients with systemic immune-based rheumatic diseases. Local production of BLyS in the joints may contribute to joint pathology. Patients with elevated serum BLyS levels may be ideal candidates for therapeutic targeting of BLyS.

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