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Serum B-cell activating factor assessment in a population of Egyptian patients with systemic sclerosis


Correspondence: Dr Reem Hamdy A. Mohammed, Department of Rheumatology and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine, Cairo University Hospitals, Kasr Eleini street, Cairo, Egypt.




Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a rare systemic connective tissue disease characterized by abnormal fibroblast proliferation and micro-vascular inflammatory changes.


To assess serum B-cell activating factor (BAFF) levels in patients with systemic sclerosis and to correlate this with disease features and disease severity.


This is a case-control study in which patients with the established diagnosis of SSc were recruited. The diagnosis of SSc was established according to the American Rheumatology Association 1980 criteria for the classification of scleroderma. Patients' assessment included evaluation of skin involvement using the Modified Rodnan score and disease severity using the Medsger score. Twenty-five healthy matching controls were included. The sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay technique was used for direct assessment of serum BAFF in patients and controls.


The study included 60 patients (54 female and 6 male), with a mean age of 38.18 ± 12.06 years, with mean disease duration of 7.85 ± 4.075 years. Serum BAFF in patients ranged 98.2–5015 pg/mL with mean BAFF 1100 ± 835.4 pg/mL. In controls serum BAFF levels ranged 188.5–2314 pg/mL with mean BAFF 546.1 ± 471.1 pg/mL, showing a statistically significant elevation of serum BAFF levels in SSc patients (= 0.0001) with insignificant correlation to skin disease or total Medsgar Score of the study population (> 0.05). Serum BAFF levels showed significant correlation with episodes of pseudo-obstruction and methotrexate (MTX) use in the patients studied (< 0.05).


Serum BAFF levels were significantly elevated in patients with SSc irrespective of disease subtype, disease duration or age of patients. This elevation in serum BAFF significantly related to gastrointestinal track involvement and MTX therapy.