Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the incidence of anti-double-stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) antibodies in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients receiving either single or multiple doses of a chimeric anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha (anti-TNFalpha) antibody or placebo infusions, with or without methotrexate, in open-label, randomized, placebo-controlled trials. METHODS: Multiple sera obtained from 156 patients before and after treatment with infliximab and from 37 patients treated with placebo infusions were tested for anti-dsDNA antibodies by 3 methods: Crithidia luciliae indirect immunofluorescence test (CLIFT), a commercial Farr assay (Ortho Diagnostics radioimmunoassay [RIA]) in which the antigen source is mammalian DNA, and a Farr assay employing 125I-labeled circular plasmid DNA (Central Laboratory of The Netherlands Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service [CLB] RIA). Patients with positive findings on the CLIFT were also tested for antibodies to histones (H1-H5) and chromatin and for IgM rheumatoid factors (IgM-RFs). RESULTS: None of the RA patients had a serum sample that was positive for anti-dsDNA antibodies by the CLIFT prior to infliximab therapy. Of the 22 patients who developed a positive CLIFT result, 11 (7% of 156 exposed to infliximab) also had positive findings on the Ortho RIA at a concentration of >10 units/ml and another 8 (5%) were positive at a concentration of >25 units/ml. In all but 1 patient, the anti-dsDNA antibodies were solely of the IgM isotype. Only 1 patient had detectable anti-dsDNA antibodies by the CLB RIA. All sera containing anti-dsDNA by the CLIFT contained antibodies to chromatin, and sera from 2 patients also contained antibodies to histones. IgM-RF titers showed a significant reduction following infliximab therapy in these 22 patients. One patient developed anti-dsDNA antibodies of IgG, IgA, and IgM isotype and had positive results on both Farr assays (peaking at 22 weeks and resolving by 54 weeks); this was associated with a reversible lupus syndrome. CONCLUSION: Anti-dsDNA antibodies of IgM class are induced by infliximab therapy; the frequency is dependent on the assay method used. Only 1 of the 156 patients who were treated with infliximab developed a self-limiting clinical lupus syndrome; that patient developed high titers of anti-dsDNA antibodies of IgG, IgM, and IgA class, as detected by the CLIFT and by 2 different Farr assays.

Original publication




Journal article


Arthritis rheum

Publication Date





2383 - 2390


Adult, Antibodies, Antinuclear, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Antirheumatic Agents, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, DNA, Female, Humans, Immunoglobulin M, Infliximab, Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Rheumatoid Factor, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha