A genetic predisoposition to rheumatic fever (RF) has been suspected by several researchers. Ten years ago, using monoclonal antibodies, the B-cell alloantigen D8/17 was identified in 90-100% of patients with RF. The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether the marker is found in patients with RF in Israel, where the population is made up of diverse ethnic groups. The Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Israel, was the setting for this study. The population included 22 children with RF and nine ethnically matched, disease-free individuals who served as controls. Each of the patients and controls were tested for the B-cell antigen with flow cytometry assay by using monoclonal antibodies. The main outcome measure was the difference in the presence of the D8/17 B-cell marker between the patients with RF and the controls. The mean percentage of B-cells expressing the marker was 11.5 ± 2.9 in the patients and 4.24 ± 2.7 in the controls (P < 0.001). There was no statistically significant difference in the frequency of the marker by ethnic origin. The present results support earlier studies suggesting that D8/17 is a disease-specific marker with a world-wide distribution which may potentially serve as an additional diagnostic tool in patients with suspected RF.
- Rheumatic fever