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Low level autoantibodies are common in a general Australian population

Deshpande, P., Lucas, M., Brunt, S., Goulding, M., Hollingsworth, P. and Bundell, C. (2013) Low level autoantibodies are common in a general Australian population. In: Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) 24th Annual Scientific Meeting, 11 - 13 September 2013, Perth, Australia.


Introduction: Detection of auto-antibodies (Abs) is a key diagnostic element for Clinical Immunopathology. There is only limited data about the prevalence of these antibodies in the Australian population. Our study objective was to determine prevalence and range of autoantibodies in the Busselton Health Study cohort.

Methods: Serum from 185 Busselton community residents (WA) collected in 1994 (males n = 95 (51.4%), females n = 90 (48.6%) each with mean age of 50 years) were tested using autoantibody assays routinely performed at Clinical Immunology PathWest Laboratory Medicine, WA (QEII site).

Results: One or more autoantibodies were detected in 51.3% of individuals (males = 22.7%, females = 28.6%). Tissue Abs against smooth muscle, parietal cell and mitochondria were detected in 11.4%, 8.6% and 1.1% respectively. Thyroid peroxidase Abs were detected in 8.6%. Anti nuclear Abs (ANA) ≥ 7 IU/ml with a homogenous pattern were detected in 3.8%, a speckled pattern in 4.3% and other patterns in 3.2%. All homogenous ANA were anti DNA negative. Beta 2 GlycoproteinI Abs to any immunoglobulin class were detected in 11.9% of individuals (IgG: 0.5%, IgM: 9.7%, IgA: 4.9%). Cardiolipin Abs were detected in 3.2% and intrinsic factor (IF) in 5.9%. Less than 2% of individuals had Abs to cyclic citrullinated peptides, tissue transglutaminase or vasculitis associated Abs (MPO, PR3, GBM). Notably, ≥ 50% of positive results were detected with relatively low level Abs with the exception of ANA, IF and IgG Beta 2 Glycoprotein1.

Conclusion: Autoantibodies are common in the general population. Our findings suggest the majority of antibodies if detected, are low level. Due to the limitations of the study we are unaware of whether these individuals have clinical autoimmunity. However it is important to be aware of the background frequency of autoantibodies in the general population to interpret autoantibody results in a clinical setting.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Institute for Immunology and Infectious Diseases
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