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J Clin Rheumatol. 2007 Oct;13(5):256-60.

Partial C4 deficiency in juvenile idiopathic arthritis patients.

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Division of Rheumatology, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, 1402 South Grand Boulevard, Saint Louis, MO 63104, USA.



C4 is encoded by 2 distinct but closely linked loci within the major histocompatibility complex locus on human chromosome 6. C4A deficiencies have been associated with autoimmune disease and C4B with increased frequency of infection. C4 deficiencies have rarely been associated with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Our aim was to investigate the prevalence of deficiencies in C4 allotypes in JIA patients.


We evaluated 61 patients [35 JIA patients, 15 systemic lupus erythematosus patients, 9 rheumatoid arthritis patients, and 2 mixed connective tissue disease (CTD) patients] for C4 deficiency. Genomic DNA was isolated from whole blood and subjected to polymerase chain reaction using sequence-specific primers for C4 allotypes.


We found 5 JIA patients with C4 deficiencies. Two IgM rheumatoid factor-positive JIA polyarthritis patients had C4 deficiencies, one with complete C4A deficiency and another with partial C4A and complete C4B deficiency. Two oligoarthritis patients displayed partial C4B deficiencies, and complete C4B deficiency was revealed in 1 IgM rheumatoid factor-negative polyarthritis patient. Three patients had histories of recurrent infections and 2 demonstrated a more severe disease course. Disease controls showed 8 systemic lupus erythematosus patients had partial C4 deficiencies, whereas no deficiencies were revealed in the rheumatoid arthritis or mixed CTD patients.


Defects in the complement system have been implicated in the pathogenesis of CTD. However, the specific role of C4 in JIA is not clear. We demonstrate partial C4 deficiencies in 5 JIA patients. Our findings suggest an association between C4 deficiency and another CTD, JIA, as well as with disease severity and recurrent infections.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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