Low copy numbers of complement C4 and C4A deficiency are risk factors for myositis, its subgroups and autoantibodies

MYOGEN Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background Idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIM) are a group of autoimmune diseases characterised by myositis-related autoantibodies plus infiltration of leucocytes into muscles and/or the skin, leading to the destruction of blood vessels and muscle fibres, chronic weakness and fatigue. While complement-mediated destruction of capillary endothelia is implicated in paediatric and adult dermatomyositis, the complex diversity of complement C4 in IIM pathology was unknown. Methods We elucidated the gene copy number (GCN) variations of total C4, C4A and C4B, long and short genes in 1644 Caucasian patients with IIM, plus 3526 matched healthy controls using real-time PCR or Southern blot analyses. Plasma complement levels were determined by single radial immunodiffusion. Results The large study populations helped establish the distribution patterns of various C4 GCN groups. Low GCNs of C4T (C4T=2+3) and C4A deficiency (C4A=0+1) were strongly correlated with increased risk of IIM with OR equalled to 2.58 (2.28-2.91), p=5.0×10 -53 for C4T, and 2.82 (2.48-3.21), p=7.0×10 -57 for C4A deficiency. Contingency and regression analyses showed that among patients with C4A deficiency, the presence of HLA-DR3 became insignificant as a risk factor in IIM except for inclusion body myositis (IBM), by which 98.2% had HLA-DR3 with an OR of 11.02 (1.44-84.4). Intragroup analyses of patients with IIM for C4 protein levels and IIM-related autoantibodies showed that those with anti-Jo-1 or with anti-PM/Scl had significantly lower C4 plasma concentrations than those without these autoantibodies. Conclusions C4A deficiency is relevant in dermatomyositis, HLA-DRB1∗03 is important in IBM and both C4A deficiency and HLA-DRB1∗03 contribute interactively to risk of polymyositis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-245
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of the rheumatic diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 28 2022


  • autoantibodies
  • dermatomyositis
  • polymyositis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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