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Maternal Antibodies Help Curb Neonatal Lupus Syndrome

The presence of anti-idiotypic antibodies may counter pathogenic antibodies

MONDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- Women with anti-idiotypic antibodies in their sera are less likely to give birth to a child with neonatal lupus syndrome, according to a report in the July issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Athanasios G. Tzioufas, M.D., from the Medical School of Athens, Greece, and colleagues collected 63 serum samples from women positive for anti-Ro/SSA and/or anti-La/SSB antibodies before or within six months of birth, and 30 samples from healthy individuals, to determine the effect of coexisting anti-idiotypic antibodies on the development of neonatal lupus syndrome (NLS).

The investigators found that mothers giving birth to a child without NLS had higher levels of anti-idiotypic antibody activity than who were carrying or previously gave birth to a child with NLS. In vitro tests showed that blocking these anti-idiotypic antibodies restored the response against the major B cell epitopes of La/SSB.

"The presence of anti-idiotypic antibodies to autoantibodies against La/SSB may protect the fetus by blocking pathogenic maternal autoantibodies," the authors conclude. "Testing for these anti-idiotypic responses may be useful in predicting a decreased risk of NLS" and "could be used as a serologic marker of low-risk pregnancies."

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