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J Rheumatol. 1995 May;22(5):868-75.

Hypergammaglobulinemic purpura in systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases: predictive value of anti-Ro(SSA) and anti-La(SSB) antibodies and treatment with indomethacin and hydroxychloroquine.

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Division of Rheumatology, Hôpital Notre-Dame, Montréal, Québec, Canada.



To define the clinical manifestations, autoantibody associations, optimal treatment, and prognosis of hypergammaglobulinemic purpura associated with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases.


Of 303 consecutive patients with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases evaluated over 5 years, 17 French Canadian patients with hypergammaglobulinemic purpura with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) (n = 12) or another systemic autoimmune rheumatic disease (n = 5) were identified and followed prospectively. Mild secondary Sjörgren's syndrome developed in 9 (53%) patients.


Sixteen (94.1%) patients were women. Attacks of hypergammaglobulinemic purpura occurred in the pretibial (76.5%) or perimalleolar (70.5%) areas or the dorsal aspect of the feet (52.9%). Triggering factors included walking, prolonged standing, and alcohol intake. The mean duration of attacks was 6.1 days. Systemic manifestations consistent with a flare of the underlying systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases accompanied hypergammaglobulinemic purpura attacks in 15 (88%) patients. Arthralgias (n = 13, 86.6%), arthritis (n = 9, 69.2%), and periarthritis were characterstically localized adjacent to the purpura. Anti-Ro antibodies were expressed in all (100%) patients with hypergammaglobulinemic purpura with SLE, but in only 11 (28.9%) of 38 consecutive patients with SLE without hypergammaglobulinemic purpura (P < 0.000001, odds ratio 84, 95% confidence interval 4.6, 1525). The positive predictive values for hypergammaglobulinemic purpura in SLE were: anti-Ro plus anti-La 73%, anti-La 57%, and anti-Ro 52%. The negative predictive value of anti-Ro was 100%. Although 11 (92%) patients with SLE with anti-Ro expressed anti-52 kDa Ro [4 (36.3%) of whom also expressed anti-60 kDa Ro], this frequency was not greater than in anti-Ro positive patients with SLE without hypergammaglobulinemic purpura. The effects of indomethacin or hydroxychloroquine were assessed over 6 months in 8 patients with recurrent incapacitating hypergammaglobulinemic purpura. Complete (n = 4) or partial (n = 4) remission of hypergammaglobulinemic purpura occurred. In 5 additional patients with severe hypergammaglobulinemic purpura, attacks stopped with prednisone 25 to 60 mg daily. The mean duration of hypergammaglobulinemic purpura followup was 5.4 years (range 1-6 years). At last followup, hypergammaglobulinemic purpura had resolved in 11 (64.7%) patients despite persistently abnormal serology.


In the absence of anti-Ro antibodies, a presumptive diagnosis of hypergammaglobulinemic purpura secondary to SLE should be questioned. Prednisone should be used only in severe hypergammaglobulinemic purpura. Indomethacin and hydroxychloroquine are of value in the treatment of milder hypergammaglobulinemic purpura.

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