Purpose The aim of the present study is to identify false-negatives for anti-Ro by analysing both 52 KDa and 60 KDa subunits separately, as well as to characterise if there are clinical or molecular differences in this subgroup of patients compared to anti-Ro negative cases.
Methods A cross-sectional, observational study of patients diagnosed of SLE according to SLICC 2012 criteria was performed. In these patients a complete blood-test was made, and clinical data by personal interview was collected. INF1A, Anti-Ro, anti-Ro52KDa and anti-Ro60KDa levels where measured by colorimetric methods. Biostatistical analysis was performed with R 3.3.2.
Results We selected 69 SLE patients with negative results for anti-Ro (2.34±4.17 U/mL) out of 142 total SLE patients. A total of 51 patients were negative for both anti-Ro subunits and 18 cases presented positive results (up to 20 pg/mL) for at least one of them (See table 1).
The subgroup of patients that exhibit simultaneously high levels of anti-Ro52KDa and anti-Ro60KDa have higher clinical activity compared to negative anti-Ro cases (75% of active patients against 41.2% in anti-Ro negative patients). However, no differences in the accumulated damage evaluated by SLICC score between negative anti-Ro cases and patients with at least one positive subunit were observed.
We analyse serum levels of INF1A cytokine in the four groups of patients, and anti-Ro and subunits negative cases showed significant lower INF1A levels than the other patients (8.26±14.87 pg/mL and 26.62±40.71 pg/mL respectively; p=0.04). In addition, patients with high levels of anti-Ro52KDa subunit are those with the highest INF1A levels (anti-Ro 52+/anti-Ro60- 23.5±47.6 pg/mL of INF1A; anti-Ro 52+/anti-Ro60 +36.4 ±37.9 pg/mL of INF1A).
Conclusion In our anti-Ro seronegative patients, a 26% of false-negative cases were detected. These cases with high levels of almost one anti-Ro subunit showed significantly higher levels of INF1A in contrast to negative cases, supporting the fact that they are indeed a different group from the negative cases. Moreover, the high INF1A levels could be the reason of the observed differences in the clinical activity measured by SLEDAI score in both groups.
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