Autoantibodies in systemic lupus erythematosus of late onset1

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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) of late onset (>50 yrs) was investigated in 40 patients. The most frequent clinical manifestations involved the joints, pleura, and skin, with the kidney and central nervous system being relatively unaffected. The most common laboratory findings were antinuclear antibody and leukopenia. Nine patients (22%) had anti-DNA antibodies. Antibodies against extractable nuclear antigens (ENA) were examined in 14 patients and found to be positive in 5 (36%). Altogether, anti-DNA was present in 58% of cases (P < 0.0002) and anti-ENA in 72% (P < 0.01). The low incidence of autoantibodies correlates with the good prognosis of SLE in older patients reported in the literature.