Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease that predominantly affects women. Despite Klinefelter's syndrome (47,XXY) and SLE coexisting in isolated cases, no association has been established with SLE or any other autoimmune disease. Methods: Sex chromosome genotyping was performed in 981 SLE patients (213 were men). A first group of 843 SLE patients from 378 multiplex families and a second group of 138 men with non-familial SLE were evaluated. Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and karyotyping in transformed B cell lines enumerated chromosomes for selected cases.
Of 213 men with SLE, five had Klinefelter's syndrome (or 1 in 43). Four of them were heterozygous at X markers. FISH and karyotyping confirmed Klinefelter’s syndrome in the fifth. An overall rate of 235 47,XXY per 10,000 male SLE patients (95%CI: 77 to 539) was found, a dramatic increase over the known prevalence of Klinefelter's syndrome in an unselected population (17 per 10,000 live male births). Asking men with SLE about fertility was highly sensitive (100%) for Klinefelter’s syndrome. All 768 SLE women were heterozygous at X.
47,XXY Klinefelter's syndrome, often subclinical, is increased in men with SLE by ~14-fold, compared to its prevalence in men without SLE. Diagnostic vigilance for 47,XXY males in SLE is warranted. These data are the first to associate Klinefelter's syndrome with an autoimmune disease found predominantly in women. The risk of SLE in Klinefelter's syndrome is predicted to be similar to the risk in normal 46,XX women and ~14-fold higher than in 46,XY men, consistent with SLE susceptibility being partly explained by a X chromosome gene dose effect.