Autoantibodies against mannose-binding lectin in systemic lupus erythematosus


M. A. Seelen, Department of Nephrology, C3P-29, Leiden University Medical Center, Albinusdreef 2, 2333 ZA Leiden, the Netherlands.


In systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), autoantibodies directed against complement components of the classical pathway, especially against C1q, are associated with severe disease and are of prognostic value for flares of lupus nephritis. Mannose-binding lectin (MBL), the recognition unit of the MBL pathway of complement activation, has structural similarities to C1q. Deficiencies of MBL have been shown to predispose to the development of SLE and to influence the course of the disease. We hypothesized that the presence of autoantibodies to MBL, analogous to autoantibodies to C1q in patients with SLE, may contribute to disease development. The occurrence of anti-MBL autoantibodies was assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) of 68 serum samples from 20 patients with SLE and in serum from 70 healthy controls. Levels of antibodies directed against MBL were significantly higher in patients with SLE compared to healthy subjects. No significant difference was found between patients with active disease compared to those with inactive disease. While the occurrence of anti-C1q autoantibodies was associated with renal involvement, no such relationship was found for anti-MBL autoantibodies. A significant correlation was found between anti-MBL and anti-C1q antibody levels. The level of anti-MBL antibodies was negatively correlated with MBL–complex activity of circulating MBL. Anti-MBL autoantibodies were of the immunoglobulin G (IgG) isotype and the binding site of IgG anti-MBL was located in the F(ab′)2 portion. We conclude that anti-MBL are present in sera from SLE patients and influence the functional activity of MBL.