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Autoantibody prevalence in active tuberculosis: reactive or pathognomonic?
  1. Chieh-Yu Shen1,
  2. Song-Chou Hsieh1,
  3. Chia-Li Yu1,
  4. Jann-Yuan Wang1,
  5. Li-Na Lee2,
  6. Chong-Jen Yu1
  1. 1Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
  2. 2Department of Laboratory Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jann-Yuan Wang; jywang{at}


Objectives To evaluate the autoantibody in patients without corresponding symptoms, whether these autoantibody are pathognomonic or not. We hypothesised that autoantibody may be reactive to chronic infection, such as tuberculosis (TB).

Design Randomised, case–control cohort study.

Setting A tertiary centre in Taiwan.

Participants We randomly chose 100 patients out of the data bank of patients with TB in a tertiary medical centre. All patients completed the sera sampling. We chose 100 patients according to autoantibody prevalence in previous literature. We also chose 100 medical staff as control group.

Interventions We tested anti-SSA, anti-SSB, anti-Sm, anti ribonucleoprotein, anti-Scl 70, anticentromere, anti-double-stranded DNA, anticardiolipin IgG and IgM in all patient and control groups. The clinical symptoms and the underlying disease were all recorded.

Primary and secondary outcome measures The result of sera antibody titre was recorded. For those with specific positive serology results, following examination was carried out after a 3-month anti-TB medication.

Results Anticardiolipin IgG titre was significantly higher in patients with TB than in control group. We compared the result with previous population study and found that anti-Scl70 is also significantly higher in patients with TB. The following up data in anti-Scl70 revealed decreased titre after treatment. No correlation between sera titre and clinical conditions was observed.

Conclusions In TB endemic areas, a significant proportion (32%) of patients with TB have elevated autoantibody titres, especially anticardiolipin IgG and anti-Scl-70. Mycobacterial studies should be performed in patients with elevated serum autoantibody titres but without the typical or multiple manifestations of autoimmune diseases.

Trial registration The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the hospital (NTUH REC: 9561707008) after informed consent had been obtained from the patients.

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology

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