The significance of persistent newly developed autoantibodies in JIA patients under long-term anti-TNF treatment

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Objective: To study the significance of persistent (≥12 months) new autoantibodies, in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) patients treated with either Infliximab (INFL) or Etanercept (ET) for ≥2 years. Patients-methods: 26 children under INFL (n = 12) or ET (n = 14) were prospectively studied. A large panel of autoantibodies was tested using indirect immunofluorescence (ANA, anti-dsDNA, anti-ENA, SMA, LKM, AMA, PCA, anti-R1, ATA), ELISA (ANA, anti-ENA, anti-cardiolipin, ANCA), immunoblotting assay (anti-ENA: anti-Ro, anti-La, anti-Sm, anti-URNP, anti-Jo, anti-Scl70, anti-centromere, anti-ribosomal and anti-histone) and rate nephelometry (RF). Results: Apart from the positive patients for ANA (13/26) and RF (2/26) prior to anti-TNF treatment, 6/26 patients (23%) developed new autoantibodies (SMA, anti-R1, ATA) which persisted for 12–50 months. None developed antibodies to nuclear antigens. In only one case, ATA was associated with the development of Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Conclusions: These findings indicate that in JIA patients in contrast to adult RA patients, development of new autoantibodies to various nuclear antigens is rare. Other non relevant to rheumatic diseases autoantibodies, may appear and persist for >12 months, but very rarely they may be related to clinical entities, especially in the presence of a positive family history of autoimmunity.

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