Twenty three of 42, or 55%, of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus had immunoglobulin deposits along the epidermal basement membrane of uninvolved skin [positive lupus band test (LBT)]. In patients with low serum complement levels, 91% had a positive LBT, as compared with 15% in those with normal complement levels. The LBT was positive in 70% of patients with clinical and laboratory evidence of renal disease, but in only 31% of patients without renal disease. Eighty one % of patients with the more severe histologic forms of lupus nephritis, i.e., proliferative glomerulonephritis and membranous glomerulonephritis, had positive tests, whereas only 23% with mesangial glomerulitis or normal histologic findings were positive. Immunoglobulins of the same class found in the skin were detected in the glomeruli of patients examined by renal biopsy. These results suggest that there is a relationship between the occurrence of immunoglobulin in the epidermal basement membrane and the presence of the more severe forms of lupus nephritis.
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