Reducing the burden of surveillance in pregnant women with no history of fetal atrioventricular block using the negative predictive value of anti-Ro/SSA antibody titers


      The risk of fetal atrioventricular block in anti-Ro/SSA antibody–exposed pregnancies with no previous affected offspring is approximately 2%. A high antibody titer is necessary but not sufficient for atrioventricular block, and specific antibody titers do not predict risk. However, there are no data on the negative predictive value of antibody titer to identify pregnancies at low risk of fetal atrioventricular block, and may not require surveillance.


      This study aimed to define anti-Ro52 and anti-Ro60 antibody thresholds for the identification of fetuses unlikely to develop atrioventricular block using clinically validated and research laboratory tests.

      Study Design

      This study performed a multicenter review of pregnant subjects who tested positive in their local commercial laboratories for anti-Ro/SSA antibodies at the University of Colorado Children’s Hospital (2014–2021) and Phoenix Children’s Hospital (2014–2021) and enrolled in the Research Registry for Neonatal Lupus (RRNL) at New York University Langone Medical Center (2002–2021). The subjects were referred on the basis of rheumatologic symptoms or history of atrioventricular block in a previous pregnancy and were retrospectively grouped on the basis of pregnancy outcome. Group 1 indicated no fetal atrioventricular block in current or past pregnancies; group 2 indicated fetal atrioventricular block in the current pregnancy; and group 3 indicated normal current pregnancy but with fetal atrioventricular block in a previous pregnancy. Maternal sera were analyzed for anti-Ro52 and anti-Ro60 antibodies using a clinically validated multiplex bead assay (Associated Regional and University Pathologists Laboratories, Salt Lake City, UT) and a research enzyme-linked immunosorbent immunoassay (New York University). This study calculated the negative predictive value separately for anti-Ro52 and anti-Ro60 antibodies and for the 2 combined using a logistic regression model and a parallel testing strategy.


      This study recruited 270 subjects (141 in group 1, 66 in group 2, and 63 in group 3). Of note, 89 subjects in group 1 had data on hydroxychloroquine treatment: anti-Ro/SSA antibody titers were no different between those treated (n=46) and untreated (n=43). Mean anti-Ro52 and anti-Ro60 titers were the lowest in group 1 and not different between groups 2 and 3. No case of fetal atrioventricular block developed among subjects with anti-Ro52 and anti-Ro60 titers of <110 arbitrary units per milliliter using the multiplex bead assay of the Associated Regional and University Pathologists Laboratories (n=141). No case of fetal atrioventricular block developed among subjects with research laboratory anti-Ro52 titers of <650 and anti-Ro60 of <4060 enzyme-linked immunosorbent immunoassay units (n=94). Using these 100% negative predictive value thresholds, more than 50% of the anti-Ro/SSA antibody pregnancies that ultimately had no fetal atrioventricular block could be excluded from surveillance based on clinical and research titers, respectively.


      Study data suggested that there is a clinical immunoassay level of maternal anti-Ro/SSA antibodies below which the pregnancy is at low risk of fetal atrioventricular block. This study speculated that prospectively applying these data may avert the costly serial echocardiograms currently recommended for all anti-Ro/SSA–antibody positive pregnancies and guide future management.

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