By contrast, patients undergoing active lupus have low levels of these autoantibodies. So far, the presence of autoantibodies of IgG was preferentially associated with acute episodes of the ailment.

Autoantibodies staining ribosomal P protein in patients with lupus. Rosario Ruiz Requena

The finding, published in the journal Cytokine, is based on the comparison of the presence of anti-CD38 in patients with acute and remission phases, and control subjects. CSIC researcher at the Institute of Parasitology and Biomedicine Jaime Sancho López-Neyra, who led the research, said: "It's the first time in the scientific literature describes the presence of these antibodies during remission of the disease ".

Its function in this Lupus this stage is still unknown. Sancho believes "might be to activate or block CD38 and induce, for example, elimination of autoreactive T cells or B lymphocyte stimulation regulators, expressing CD38 on its surface."

On Friday May 10th marks the World Lupus Day. It is an autoimmune disease of unknown origin that primarily affects women of childbearing age who suffer from this ailment nine times more than men. In Europe it is estimated to affect 40 out of every 100,000 people. There is currently no cure for this disease and its treatment focuses mainly to monitor and, if necessary, to prevent acute outbreaks.

According to the CSIC researcher, "the increase in antibodies often associated with negative consequences for the organism." However, since the anti-CD38 are overexpressed more during the remission phase, Sancho believes that "the increase could be related to some immunomodulatory function."

The researcher is confident, too, that this phenomenon can "improve the monitoring of patients who are in this phase of the disease, usually without apparent symptoms but underlying serological activity."

Pavón EJ, Zumaquero E, Rosal-Vela A, Khoo KM, Cerezo-Wallis D, García-Rodríguez S, Carrascal M, Abian J, Graeff R, Callejas-Rubio JL, Ortego-Centeno N, Malavasi F, Zubiaur M, Sancho J. Increased CD38 expression in T cells and circulating anti-CD38 IgG autoantibodies differentially correlate with distinct cytokine profiles and disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus patients. Cytokine. DOI: 10.1016/j.cyto.2013.02.023