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Autoantibodies Could Help Predict Cancer Risk in Scleroderma


Five scleroderma immune responses have associations with cancer risk and could be used to stratify patients, researchers argue.


  • Included patients from the Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Center Research Registry and the University of Pittsburgh Scleroderma Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

  • A total of 676 patients with scleroderma and a history of cancer were compared with 687 control patients with scleroderma but without a history of cancer.

  • Serum tested via line blot and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for an array of scleroderma autoantibodies.

  • Examined association between autoantibodies and overall cancer risk.


  • Anti-POLR3 and monospecific anti-Ro52 were associated with significantly increased overall cancer risk.

  • Anti-centromere and anti-U1RNP were associated with a decreased cancer risk.

  • These associations remained when looking specifically at cancer-associated scleroderma.

  • Patients positive for anti-Ro52 in combination with either anti-U1RNP or anti-Th/To had a decreased risk of cancer, compared with those who had anti-Ro52 alone.


  • This study is too preliminary to have practice application.


Ji Soo Kim, PhD, of John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, was the first author of the study, published in Arthritis & Rheumatology on July 24, 2023. Fellow Johns Hopkins researchers Livia Casciola-Rosen, PhD, and Ami A. Shah, MD, were joint senior authors.


The study was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the Donald B. and Dorothy L. Stabler Foundation, the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, the Chresanthe Staurulakis Memorial Discovery Fund, the Martha McCrory Professorship, and the Johns Hopkins inHealth initiative. The authors disclosed the following patents or patent applications: Autoimmune Antigens and Cancer, Materials and Methods for Assessing Cancer Risk and Treating Cancer.

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  • Posted on August 3, 2023