Perinuclear antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (P-ANCA) have been demonstrated in patients with ulcerative colitis and in a higher frequency than expected in their first degree relatives. A hypothesis was proposed that P-ANCA is genetically determined and may represent a subclinical marker of genetic susceptibility to ulcerative colitis. This study analysed P-ANCA in monozygotic twins with inflammatory bowel disease to evaluate this hypothesis further. P-ANCA was analysed with indirect immunofluorescence technique in 12 monozygotic twin pairs with ulcerative colitis and 14 twin pairs with Crohn's disease. Furthermore, the study included 21 non-twin patients with ulcerative colitis, 18 non-twin patients with Crohn's disease, and 52 healthy controls matched for sex and age. In ulcerative colitis P-ANCA occurred in nine of 14 (64.3%) monozygotic twins and in 13 of 21 (61.9%) non-twin cases, which was significantly different compared with healthy controls who were positive in three of 52 (5.8%) cases (p < 0.0001). P-ANCA was found in two of 10 (20%) healthy twin siblings to twins with ulcerative colitis, which was not significantly different from healthy controls (p = 0.18). The results in Crohn's disease did not differ from healthy controls. Previous findings of P-ANCA occurring in ulcerative colitis but not in Crohn's disease are supported. This study does not support the hypothesis that P-ANCA is a subclinical marker of genetic susceptibility to ulcerative colitis.
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