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African-Americans Have More Severe Sclerosis Complications

Complications related to the type of autoantibody and severity of interstitial lung disease

FRIDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- African-American patients with systemic sclerosis have more severe complications than Caucasian patients, and these complications are related to the type of autoantibody and severity of lung disease, according to a study published online May 10 in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Virginia Steen, M.D., from the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and colleagues examined the demographic and disease features of African-American and Caucasian patients with systemic sclerosis, seen between 1972 and 2007. Severe disease was determined by the Medsger Disease Severity Scale.

The researchers found that the anti-topoisomerase, anti-U1RNP, and anti-U3RNP autoantibodies were more likely to be found among African-American patients. Compared with Caucasian patients with these antibodies, African-American patients had more frequent and more severe pulmonary fibrosis and decreased survival. In African-American patients with anti-U1RNP, pulmonary fibrosis was more severe, but did not correlate with the survival difference between African-Americans and Caucasians. Anti-U3RNP correlated with more severe gastrointestinal involvement in African-Americans.

"African-Americans with systemic sclerosis have more severe disease complications than Caucasians which is associated with both the type of autoantibody and their severity of interstitial lung disease," the authors write. "Hopefully early aggressive intervention in all African-Americans with interstitial lung disease will improve outcomes."

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