Despite the uncertainty in the diagnosis of neuropsychiatric involvement in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), attempts have been made to record the association of certain antibodies in serum with neuropsychiatric (NP) manifestations. We aimed to assess the behaviour and the association of serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) autoantibodies with NP manifestations in SLE patients (NPSLE).
Forty-seven SLE patients, hospitalized because of NP manifestations were included. They were evaluated at hospitalization and six months later, and serum and CSF samples were obtained at each evaluation. As controls, serum samples were taken from 49 non-NPSLE patients at hospitalization and six months later; serum and CSF samples were also obtained from 6 SLE patients with septic meningitis, 16 surgical SLE patients and 25 patients without autoimmune diseases. Antinuclear, anti-dsDNA, anti-ribosomal P, Anti-N-Methyl-D-Aspartate receptor (NMDAR), anti-cardiolipin, and anti-β2 glycoprotein-I antibodies were measured. In serum, anti-ribosomal P, anti-NMDAR, and other antibodies did not differentiate among SLE groups, and the levels of all antibodies were similar among the SLE groups. Six-months later, this scenario remained unchanged and the decrease in the levels of some autoantibodies reflected a decline in disease activity, rather than a change in NPSLE. In CSF, only the presence and the levels of anti-NMDAR antibodies showed a characteristic distribution in central NPSLE and septic meningitis patients. Six months later the prevalence of most antibodies in CSF did not change, however the levels of anti-dsDNA, anti-ribosomal P, and anti-NMDAR decreased.
In NPSLE, autoantibodies in serum do not reflect their behaviour in CSF. All autoantibodies were elevated in septic meningitis reflecting the global penetration of serum antibodies into the CSF in this condition. Anti-NMDAR antibodies in CSF identified patients with central NPSLE; their continued presence in CSF 6 months after neurologic symptoms raise questions regarding the conditions under which they are pathogenic.