, Volume 27, Issue 11, pp 1031-1039
Date: 20 Jul 2007

Is there a predisposition for the development of autoimmune diseases in patients with fibromyalgia? Retrospective analysis with long term follow-up

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The objectives of the study were to evaluate the prevalence of antinuclear antibodies (ANA) in patients with fibromyalgia (FM) and the probability of the development of clinically overt connective tissue diseases. Four hundred and fifty FM patients were compared to 129 healthy matched blood donors. ANA testing was performed by immunofluorescence on rat tissue sections; in case of highly positive results, ANA were specified further by ELISA and immunodiffusion. All ANA positive FM patients were invited for a control examination. The ANA negative patients received a questionnaire, which was designed to identify those patients with possible connective tissue diseases (CTD). There was no significant difference in the frequency of ANA or thyroid antibodies between patients and controls (11.6% vs. 7%). Two patients had developed SLE: one was already ANA/anti-dsDNA positive at time of first diagnosis of FM; in the other, specific antibodies and SLE-related symptoms developed after 4.5 years. The probability for FM patients to develop CTD (SLE) within one year is 0.0027%, which is comparable to the incidence of SLE in the general population (0.005%). The risk of CTD is not increased in FM. The detection of ANA does not predict the development of CTD. However, in individual cases, FM may be an early sign of an autoimmune disease.