Objective: To determine whether there is an increased prevalence of systemic autoimmune diseases in both patients with white spot syndromes (WSS) and their family members. Methods: Patients with WSS at participating institutions were asked to complete a questionnaire reporting their own medical histories as well as any autoimmune diseases among their first- and second-degree relatives. Results: As of January 1, 2008, 114 questionnaires had been collected, providing medical histories of 114 patients with WSS and 1098 family members. The number of patients with WSS with self-reported systemic autoimmune diseases was 26 (23%). Of 1098 relatives, 106 (10%) had at least 1 autoimmune disease. Systemic autoimmunity was more prevalent in female relatives (13%) as compared with male relatives (6%). In addition, the prevalence of autoimmunity was significantly higher among first-degree relatives (13%) than second-degree relatives (8%). Patients who themselves had systemic autoimmune diseases showed a greater prevalence of systemic autoimmunity among their families as compared with the families of patients without systemic autoimmune diseases. Conclusions: Our data indicate that there is an increased prevalence of systemic autoimmunity in both patients with WSS and their first- and second-degree relatives. This suggests that WSS occur in families with inherited immune dysregulation that predisposes to autoimmunity.
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