, Volume 55, Issue 1-3, pp 10-21
Date: 01 Sep 2012

Linking complement and anti-dsDNA antibodies in the pathogenesis of systemic lupus erythematosus

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Abstract

Systemic lupus erythematosus is a severe autoimmune disease that affects multiple organ systems resulting in diverse symptoms and outcomes. It is characterized by antibody production to a variety of self-antigens, but it is specifically associated with those against anti-dsDNA. Anti-dsDNA antibodies are present before the onset of clinical disease and are associated with severe manifestations of lupus such as glomerulonephritis. Their levels fluctuate with changes in disease activity and, in combination with the levels of complement proteins C3 and C4, are strong indicators of disease flare and treatment response in patients with lupus. The decreased complement levels that are noted during flares of lupus activity are believed to be secondary to increased autoantibody production and immune complex formation that results in tissue damage; however, recent data suggest that complement activation can also drive development of these pathogenic autoantibodies. This review will explore the various roles of complement in the development and pathogenesis of anti-dsDNA antibodies.