Real-Time PCR of cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus in adult Egyptian patients with systemic lupus erythematosus

Aly E Mohamed, Amany M Hasen, Ghada F A Mohammed, Nermin N Elmaraghy
International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases 2015, 18 (4): 452-8

OBJECTIVE: Infections may act as environmental triggers for induction of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). We sought to explore the relative frequencies of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and human cytomegalovirus (CMV) in adult Egyptian patients with SLE and their correlation with disease activity and damage.

METHODS: Thirty-three consecutive adult patients satisfying the 1997 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Classification Criteria for SLE and 30 healthy controls were included in this case-control study. All patients were subjected to complete clinical and laboratory evaluation to determine the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) and the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics/American College of Rheumatology Damage Index (SLICC/ACR). Sera from both groups were analyzed for immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgG antibodies against CMV and EBV. Qualitative real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for both viruses was performed for all SLE patients.

RESULTS: Almost all SLE patients 32/33 (96.9%) were positive for IgG anti-CMV antibodies versus 20/30 in the control group (66.6%) (P = 0.002). All SLE patients were positive for IgG anti-EBV antibodies compared to 25 in the control group (100% vs. 83.3%, P = 0.02). CMV and EBV DNA were detected by PCR in 30.3% and 51.5% of SLE patients, respectively. A statistically significant lower SLEDAI was found in PCR positive patients for EBV compared to negative patients (9.6 ± 5.2 vs. 13.1 ± 3.1, respectively P = 0.041).

CONCLUSIONS: Adult Egyptian patients with SLE had higher frequencies of anti-CMV and EBV IgG compared to healthy controls. Furthermore, our single point assessment of SLEDAI suggested that exposure to EBV infection might be associated with a lower disease activity.

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