Exposure of chromatin and not high affinity for dsDNA determines the nephritogenic impact of anti-dsDNA antibodies in (NZBxNZW)F1 mice.
OBJECTIVE To measure relative functional affinities of both IgG anti-DNA and anti-nucleosome antibodies in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). METHODS Serum IgG anti-DNA antibodies were affinity purified from DNA-Sepharose columns (APAD) and tested for functional affinities using dissociation of antigen-antibody binding with diethylamine. IgG antibody affinities for nucleosomes prepared from chicken erythrocyte nuclei and apoptotic normal human leukocyte nuclei were also measured. RESULTS Many patients with SLE nephritis showed low IgG anti-DNA antibody affinity for both DNA and nucleosomes during clinical phases of active nephritis. Serial studies confirmed an apparent relationship between clinical bouts of active renal disease and low residual serum anti-DNA and sometimes anti-nucleosome affinity. Serial studies of patients with SLE without renal disease did not show episodes of low affinity serum anti-DNA. When APAD were compared to renal biopsy eluates, much higher affinity for DNA was found in renal eluates than in APAD in serum. Similarly, low affinity antibodies in serum were associated with high affinity anti-nucleosome antibody in renal biopsy eluates in some but not all of 10 patients with SLE studied. CONCLUSION Residual IgG anti-DNA antibody affinity for DNA is often low during phases of active SLE nephritis. When nephritis improves or precipitates chronic renal failure, serum anti-DNA antibody affinity increases. Measurement of anti-DNA antibody affinity may provide a useful indicator of renal disease activity.