We have evaluated the immunologic characteristics often associated with systemic lupus erythematosus in a series of patients with a variety of different liver diseases. Antibody to double-stranded DNA as measured by the Farr assay was detected frequently in patients with various forms of liver disease. No patient with liver disease, including those with a presumed immunologic etiology, was found to have antibody to double-stranded DNA using more specific assays. Other immunologic phenomena such as the presence of immunofluorescent staining at the dermal-epidermal junction in the lupus band test, circulating immune complexes and the presence of antinuclear antibody were present in a number of patients with different forms of liver disease. The absence of antibody to double-stranded DNA in patients with liver disease suggests that there may be a true immunologic distinction between systemic lupus erythematosus and chronic active ('lupoid') hepatitis.
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