Abstract Natural IgM autoantibodies have been proposed to convey protection from autoimmune pathogenesis. Herein, we investigated the IgM responses in 396 systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients, divided into subgroups based on distinct autoantibody profiles. Depressed IgM levels were more common in SLE than in matched population controls. Strikingly, an autoreactivity profile defined by IgG anti-Ro/La was associated with reduced levels of specific natural IgM targeting phosphorylcholine (PC) antigens and malondialdehyde (MDA) modified-protein, as well as total IgM, while no differences were detected in SLE patients with an autoreactivity profile defined by anti-cardiolipin/β2glycoprotein-I. We also observed an association of reduced IgM levels with the HLA-DRB1*03 allelic variant among SLE patients and controls. Associations of low IgM anti-PC with cardiovascular disease were primarily found in patients without antiphospholipid antibodies. These studies further highlight the clinical relevance of depressed IgM. Our results suggest that low IgM levels in SLE patients reflect immunological and genetic differences between SLE subgroups. Highlights Low IgM levels are more common in SLE patients than in controls. Patients with anti-Ro/La autoimmunity often have strikingly decreased IgM levels. Low IgM was seen for specific IgM anti-PC, anti-MDA, anti-CWPS, as well as total IgM. Low natural IgM may be associated to HLA-DRB1*03 in both SLE and controls.
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