GM and KM allotypes – genetic markers of immunoglobulin (Ig) γ and ĸ chains, respectively – have been shown to play an important role in genetic predisposition to some autoimmune diseases. To determine their role in susceptibility to systemic sclerosis (SSc; scleroderma) and in the generation of anti-fibrillin-1 antibodies, 148 SSc patients and 191 controls were typed for several GM and KM allotypes by a standard hemagglutination inhibition method. IgG and IgM antibodies to fibrillin-1 were measured by radioimmunoassay. GM and KM phenotypes were not significantly associated with SSc. However, these determinants significantly influenced the production of anti-fibrillin-1 antibodies in SSc patients. In Caucasians, GM1,3,17 23 5,13,21 and GM3 23 5,13 phenotypes were associated with the presence and absence of IgG autoantibodies, respectively. The production of these autoantibodies was also associated with KM allotypes, KM1,3 heterozygosity being associated with response and homozygosity for the KM3 allele with nonresponse to fibrillin-1. In African-Americans, the KM1 homozygotes were associated with the absence of anti-fibrillin-1 antibodies and the KM3 homozygotes with the presence of autoantibodies. In this ethnic group, the GM1,17 5,13 phenotype was associated with the absence of IgM autoantibodies. This represents the first description of genetic control of autoimmunity to fibrillin-1 in scleroderma.

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