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1.  Rpp25 is a major target of autoantibodies to the Th/To complex as measured by a novel chemiluminescent assay 
Autoantibodies to the Th/To antigen have been described in systemic sclerosis (SSc) and several proteins of the macromolecular Th/To complex have been reported to react with anti-Th/To antibodies. However, anti-Th/To has not been clinically utilized due to unavailability of commercial tests. The objective of the present study is to evaluate the newly developed ELISA and chemiluminescent immunoassay (CLIA) to measure autoantibodies to Rpp25 (a component of the Th/To complex) using immunoprecipitation (IP) as the reference method.
The first cohort consisted of 123 SSc patients including 7 anti-Th/To positive samples confirmed by IP. Additional seven anti-Th/To positive samples from non-SSc patients were also tested. For evaluation of the QUANTA Flash Rpp25 CLIA (research use only), 8 anti-Th/To IP positives, a cohort of 70 unselected SSc patients and sera from various disease controls (n = 357) and random healthy individuals (n = 10) were studied.
Anti-Rpp25 antibodies determined by ELISA were found in 11/14 anti-Th/To IP positive but only in 1/156 (0.6%) negative samples resulting in a positive percent agreement of 78.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] 49.2, 95.3%) and a negative percent agreement of 99.4% (95% CI 96.4, 100.0%). To verify the results using a second method, 53 samples were tested by ELISA and CLIA for anti-Rpp25 reactivity and the results were highly correlated (rho = 0.71, 95% CI 0.56, 0.81; P < 0.0001). To define the cutoff of the CLIA, anti-Th/To IP positive and negative sera were tested using the anti-Rpp25 CLIA. At the cutoff selected by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis 8/8 (100.0%) of the anti-Th/To positive sera but only 2/367 (0.5%) of the controls were positive for anti-Rpp25 antibodies. The positive and negative percent agreements were 100.0% (95% CI 63.1, 100.0%) and 99.5% (95% CI 98.0, 99.9%), respectively. In the disease cohorts 2/70 (2.9%) of the SSc patients were positive for anti-Rpp25 antibodies compared to 2/367 (0.5%) of the controls (P = 0.032). ROC analysis showed discrimination between SSc patients and controls with an area under the curve value of 0.732 (95% CI 0.655, 0.809).
Rpp25 is a major target of autoantibodies to the Th/To autoantigen complex. Further studies are needed to evaluate the clinical utility of the new assays.
PMCID: PMC3672760  PMID: 23587095
2.  Clinical significance of antibodies to Ro52/TRIM21 in systemic sclerosis 
Autoantibodies to Ro52 recently identified as TRIM21 are among the most common autoantibodies in systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases, but their clinical association remains poorly understood. We undertook this study to determine the clinical and serologic associations of anti-Ro52/TRIM21 antibodies in patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Detailed clinical data and sera from 963 patients with SSc enrolled in a multicenter cohort study were collected and entered into a central database. Antibodies to Ro52/TRIM21 and other autoantibodies were detected with an addressable laser-bead immunoassay and different enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) systems. Associations between anti-Ro52/TRIM21 antibodies and clinical and other serologic manifestations of SSc were investigated.
Anti-Ro52/TRIM21 antibodies were present in 20% of SSc patients and overlapped with other main SSc-related antibodies, including anti-centromere (by immunofluorescence and centromere protein (CENP)-A and CENP-B ELISA), anti-topoisomerase I, anti-RNA polymerase III, and anti-Pm/Scl antibodies. Anti-Ro52/TRIM21 antibodies were strongly associated with interstitial lung disease (odds ratio (OR), 1.53; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.11 to 2.12; P = 0.0091) and overlap syndrome (OR, 2.06; 95% CI, 1.01 to 4.19; P = 0.0059).
Anti-Ro52/TRIM21 antibodies were the second most common autoantibodies in this SSc cohort. In SSc, anti-Ro52/TRIM21 antibodies may be a marker of interstitial lung disease and overlap syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3446416  PMID: 22394602
3.  Predictors of interstitial lung disease in early systemic sclerosis: a prospective longitudinal study of the GENISOS cohort 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2010;12(5):R166.
The objective of the present study was to examine the association of baseline demographic and clinical characteristics with sequentially obtained measurements of forced vital capacity (FVC), expressed as a percentage of the predicted value, and to identify predictors of the decline rate in FVC over time in the Genetics versus Environment in Scleroderma Outcome Study (GENISOS).
To date, 266 patients have been enrolled in GENISOS, a prospective, observational cohort of patients with early systemic sclerosis. In addition to pulmonary function tests (PFTs), clinical and laboratory data were obtained from each patient. We analyzed 926 FVC measurements utilizing generalized linear mixed models. The predictive significance of baseline variables for the decline rate in FVC was investigated by the interaction term between the variable and the follow-up time within the first 3 years after enrollment as well as throughout the entire follow-up time.
The cohort consisted of 125 white, 54 African American, and 77 Hispanic patients with average disease duration of 2.5 years at enrollment. The mean follow-up time was 3.8 years, ranging up to 11.4 years. A number of baseline variables, including antibody status, African American ethnicity, disease type, baseline PFT values, modified Rodnan Skin Score, fibrosis on chest radiograph, and lung and skin subscores of the Severity Index, were associated with serially measured FVC levels. However, only the presence of anti-topoisomerase I antibodies (ATA) was associated with lower FVC levels (P < 0.001) as well as accelerated decline rate in FVC within the first 3 years of follow-up (P = 0.02). None of the baseline variables predicted the rate of decline in FVC on long-term follow-up. Patients with rapidly progressive ILD, however, were under-represented in the long-term follow-up group because the accelerated rate of decline in FVC was associated with poor survival (P = 0.001).
Presence of ATA was the only baseline variable associated with differential FVC levels, predicting the rate of decline in FVC within the first 3 years of follow-up. The association of faster decline in FVC with poor survival further emphasizes the need for identification of predictive biomarkers by collection of genetic information and serial blood samples in cohort studies.
PMCID: PMC2990992  PMID: 20813056
4.  Clinical and serological evaluation of a novel CENP-A peptide based ELISA 
Anti-centromere antibodies (ACA) are useful biomarkers in the diagnosis of systemic sclerosis (SSc). ACA are found in 20 to 40% of SSc patients and, albeit with lower prevalence, in patients with other systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases. Historically, ACA were detected by indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) on HEp-2 cells and confirmed by immunoassays using recombinant CENP-B. The objective of this study was to evaluate a novel CENP-A peptide ELISA.
Sera collected from SSc patients (n = 334) and various other diseases (n = 619) and from healthy controls (n = 175) were tested for anti-CENP-A antibodies by the novel CENP-A enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Furthermore, ACA were determined in the disease cohorts by IIF (ImmunoConcepts, Sacramento, CA, USA), CENP-B ELISA (Dr. Fooke), EliA® CENP (Phadia, Freiburg, Germany) and line-immunoassay (LIA, Mikrogen, Neuried, Germany). Serological and clinical associations of anti-CENP-A with other autoantibodies were conducted in one participating centre. Inhibition experiments with either the CENP-A peptide or recombinant CENP-B were carried out to analyse the specificity of anti-CENP-A and -B antibodies.
The CENP-A ELISA results were in good agreement with other ACA detection methods. According to the kappa method, the qualitative agreements were: 0.73 (vs. IIF), 0.81 (vs. LIA), 0.86 (vs. CENP-B ELISA) and 0.97 (vs. EliA® CENP). The quantitative comparison between CENP-A and CENP-B ELISA using 265 samples revealed a correlation value of rho = 0.5 (by Spearman equation). The receiver operating characteristic analysis indicated that the discrimination between SSc patients (n = 131) and various controls (n = 134) was significantly better using the CENP-A as compared to CENP-B ELISA (P < 0.0001). Modified Rodnan skin score was significantly lower in the CENP-A negative group compared to the positive patients (P = 0.013). Inhibition experiments revealed no significant cross reactivity of anti-CENP-A and anti-CENP-B antibodies. Statistically relevant differences for gender ratio (P = 0.0103), specific joint involvement (Jaccoud) (P = 0.0006) and anti-phospholipid syndrome (P = 0.0157) between ACA positive SLE patients and the entire SLE cohort were observed.
Anti-CENP-A antibodies as determined by peptide ELISA represent a sensitive, specific and independent marker for the detection of ACA and are useful biomarkers for the diagnosis of SSc. Our data suggest that anti-CENP-A antibodies are a more specific biomarker for SSc than antibodies to CENP-B. Furthers studies are required to verify these findings.
PMCID: PMC2911886  PMID: 20487535
6.  The changing landscape of the clinical value of the PM/Scl autoantibody system 
Autoantibodies to the polymyositis/scleroderma (PM/Scl) complex have been associated with systemic sclerosis and PM/Scl overlap syndrome. The report of Hanke and colleagues in a recent issue of Arthritis Research and Therapy is the first to describe the separate evaluation of anti-PM/Scl-75c and PM/Scl-100 autoantibodies and their relationship to clinical manifestations of systemic sclerosis. Several observations are of paramount interest, but are not in general agreement with earlier studies. These include the prevalence of anti-PM/Scl antibodies in systemic sclerosis, the association with certain clinical manifestations and prognosis of patients. This report will hopefully trigger systematic multi-centre studies to confirm and/or elucidate the novel line immunoassay and clinical associations.
PMCID: PMC2688186  PMID: 19351430
8.  Limited reliability of the indirect immunofluorescence technique for the detection of anti-Rib-P antibodies 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2008;10(6):R131.
Autoantibodies to the ribosomal P proteins represent a highly specific marker for the diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus, where they have been associated with certain clinical manifestations. Historically, autoantibodies against ribosomal P proteins have been detected by indirect immunofluorescence, immunodiffusion, immunoblot, and other immunoassays. More recently, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and line and addressable laser bead immunoassays have become more widely used. The primary goal of this study was to determine the sensitivity of indirect immunofluorescence using conventional HEp-2 substrates in the detection of sera with ribosomal P antibodies as detected by other immunoassays.
Anti-ribosomal P-positive sera (n = 345) as detected by an addressable laser bead immunoassay were collected between 2003 and 2007 and analysed by indirect immunofluorescence. Furthermore, 51 anti-ribosomal P-positive samples from an unselected systemic lupus erythematosus cohort (n = 100) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) reference sera were tested for anti-ribosomal P reactivity.
In the cohort of 345 anti-ribosomal P-positive samples identified by addressable laser bead immunoassay, a low sensitivity (<30%) of indirect immunofluorescence on HEp-2 cell substrates was observed. Although the degree of sensitivity varied among different manufacturers, all immunofluorescence substrates exhibited limited sensitivity and false-negative results were not restricted to samples with low anti-ribosomal P titers. Even the anti-ribosomal P reactivity of CDC ANA reference serum number 12 was not clearly predictable by indirect immunofluorescence. Comparison of five different methods for the detection of anti-ribosomal P found moderate qualitative agreements.
Based on our data, we conclude that indirect immunofluorescence on HEp-2 cells is not a reliable screening test for the prediction of ribosomal P antibodies. As this method is widely used as a first-line screening test for anti-nuclear and other autoantibodies, special considerations for the detection of ribosomal P antibodies are needed. As with many other autoantibodies, further effort is required for the standardisation of ribosomal P immunoassays.
PMCID: PMC2656233  PMID: 19000323
9.  Heterogeneity of autoantibodies in 100 patients with autoimmune myositis: insights into clinical features and outcomes 
The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence, mutual associations, clinical manifestations, and diagnoses associated with serum autoantibodies, as detected using recently available immunoassays, in patients with autoimmune myositis (AIM). Sera and clinical data were collected from 100 patients with AIM followed longitudinally. Sera were screened cross-sectionally for 21 autoantibodies by multiplex addressable laser bead immunoassay, line blot immunoassay, immunoprecipitation of in vitro translated recombinant protein, protein A assisted immunoprecipitation, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Diagnoses were determined using the Bohan and Peter classification as well as recently proposed classifications. Relationships between autoantibodies and clinical manifestations were analyzed by multiple logistic regression. One or more autoantibodies encompassing 19 specificities were present in 80% of the patients. The most common autoantibodies were anti-Ro52 (30% of patients), anti-Ku (23%), anti-synthetases (22%), anti-U1RNP (15%), and anti-fibrillarin (14%). In the presence of autoantibodies to Ku, synthetases, U1RNP, fibrillarin, PM-Scl, or scleroderma autoantigens, at least one more autoantibody was detected in the majority of sera and at least two more autoantibodies in over one-third of sera. The largest number of concurrent autoantibodies was six autoantibodies. Overall, 44 distinct combinations of autoantibodies were counted. Most autoantibodies were unrestricted to any AIM diagnostic category. Distinct clinical syndromes and therapeutic responses were associated with anti-Jo-1, anti-fibrillarin, anti-U1RNP, anti-Ro, anti-Ro52, and autoantibodies to scleroderma autoantigens. We conclude that a significant proportion of AIM patients are characterized by complex associations of autoantibodies. Certain myositis autoantibodies are markers for distinct overlap syndromes and predict therapeutic outcomes. The ultimate clinical features, disease course, and response to therapy in a given AIM patient may be linked to the particular set of associated autoantibodies. These results provide a rationale for patient profiling and its application to therapeutics, because it cannot be assumed that the B-cell response is the same even in the majority of patients in a given diagnostic category.
PMCID: PMC2206383  PMID: 17688695
10.  Effect of dsDNA binding to SmD-derived peptides on clinical accuracy in the diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus 
Systemic lupus erythematosus is characterized by antibodies to a variety of intracellular self-antigens, such as dsDNA and Sm, and these serve as hallmarks in the diagnosis of systemic autoimmune diseases. Several studies have shown that SmD1 and SmD3 synthetic peptides represent highly functional antigens for autoantibody detection and thus for diagnostic applications. The present study analysed the technical and clinical accuracy of an anti-SmD1 (amino acids 83–119) and an anti-SmD3 (amino acids 108–122) ELISA for the detection of anti-Sm antibodies. Depending on the cut-off value of the SmD1 ELISA, we found a high degree of concordance between the two tests. At an optimized cut-off value of 100 units for SmD1 we found the same clinical sensitivity (12.5%) and specificity (100%) in a group of systemic lupus erythematosus patients (n = 48) and in controls (n = 99). The concordance at this cut-off value was 100% (P < 0.0001; χ2 = 127.61). Using a second panel of sera (n = 65) preselected based on positive anti-Sm results, we confirmed the high degree of concordance between the two assays. Using dsDNA-coated ELISA plates and biotinylated peptides we confirmed the high dsDNA binding properties for SmD1, which were significantly higher than the SmD3-derived peptide. However, no cross-linking of anti-dsDNA antibodies to SmD1 was observed after adding increasing amounts of dsDNA to anti-dsDNA positive, anti-SmD1 negative serum. We therefore conclude that the reported difference in the sensitivity is related to the different cut-off levels and not to the detection of anti-dsDNA antibodies bridged via dsDNA to the SmD1 peptide. Moreover, we found that a subpopulation of anti-Sm antibodies cross-reacted with SmD1 and SmD3. Taken together, the data indicate that both SmD peptide ELISAs represent accurate assays and may be used as important standards for the detection of anti-Sm antibodies.
PMCID: PMC2206372  PMID: 17640359
11.  Autoimmune targeting of key components of RNA interference 
RNA interference (RNAi) is an evolutionarily conserved mechanism that is involved in the post-transcriptional silencing of genes. This process elicits the degradation or translational inhibition of mRNAs based on the complementarity with short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) or microRNAs (miRNAs). Recently, differential expression of specific miRNAs and disruption of the miRNA synthetic pathway have been implicated in cancer; however, their role in autoimmune disease remains largely unknown. Here, we report that anti-Su autoantibodies from human patients with rheumatic diseases and in a mouse model of autoimmunity recognize the human Argonaute (Ago) protein, hAgo2, the catalytic core enzyme in the RNAi pathway. More specifically, 91% (20/22) of the human anti-Su sera were shown to immunoprecipitate the full-length recombinant hAgo2 protein. Indirect immunofluorescence studies in HEp-2 cells demonstrated that anti-Su autoantibodies target cytoplasmic foci identified as GW bodies (GWBs) or mammalian P bodies, structures recently linked to RNAi function. Furthermore, anti-Su sera were also capable of immunoprecipitating additional key components of the RNAi pathway, including hAgo1, -3, -4, and Dicer. Together, these results demonstrate an autoimmune response to components of the RNAi pathway which could potentially implicate the involvement of an innate anti-viral response in the pathogenesis of autoantibody production.
PMCID: PMC1779426  PMID: 16684366
12.  Clinical evaluation of autoantibodies to a novel PM/Scl peptide antigen 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2005;7(3):R704-R713.
Anti-PM/Scl antibodies represent a specific serological marker for a subset of patients with scleroderma (Scl) and polymyositis (PM), and especially with the PM/Scl overlap syndrome (PM/Scl). Anti-PM/Scl reactivity is found in 24% of PM/Scl patients and is found in 3–10% of Scl and PM patients. The PM/Scl autoantigen complex comprises 11–16 different polypeptides. Many of those proteins can serve as targets of the anti-PM/Scl B-cell response, but most frequently the PM/Scl-100 and PM/Scl-75 polypeptides are targeted. In the present study we investigated the clinical relevance of a major alpha helical PM/Scl-100 epitope (PM1-α) using a newly developed peptide-based immunoassay and compared the immunological properties of this peptide with native and recombinant PM/Scl antigens. In a technical comparison, we showed that an ELISA based on the PM1-α peptide is more sensitive than common techniques to detect anti-PM/Scl antibodies such as immunoblot, indirect immunofluorescence on HEp-2 cells and ELISA with recombinant PM/Scl polypeptides. We found no statistical evidence of a positive association between anti-PM1-α and other antibodies, with the exception of known PM/Scl components. In our cohort a negative correlation could be found with anti-Scl-70 (topoisomerase I), anti-Jo-1 (histidyl tRNA synthetase) and anti-centromere proteins. In a multicenter evaluation we demonstrated that the PM1-α peptide represents a sensitive and reliable substrate for the detection of a subclass of anti-PM/Scl antibodies. In total, 22/40 (55%) PM/Scl patients, 27/205 (13.2%) Scl patients and 3/40 (7.5%) PM patients, but only 5/288 (1.7%) unrelated controls, tested positive for the anti-PM1-α peptide antibodies. These data indicate that anti-PM1-α antibodies appear to be exclusively present in sera from PM/Scl patients, from Scl patients and, to a lesser extent, from PM patients. The anti-PM1-α ELISA thus offers a new serological marker to diagnose and discriminate different systemic autoimmune disorders.
PMCID: PMC1174964  PMID: 15899056
13.  Identification of a SmD3 epitope with a single symmetrical dimethylation of an arginine residue as a specific target of a subpopulation of anti-Sm antibodies 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;7(1):R19-R29.
Anti-Sm antibodies, identified in 1966 by Tan and Kunkel, are highly specific serological markers for systemic lupus erythrematosus (SLE). Anti-Sm reactivity is found in 5–30% of SLE patients, depending on the autoantibody detection system and the racial background of the SLE population. The Sm autoantigen complex comprises at least nine different polypeptides. All of these core proteins can serve as targets of the anti-Sm B-cell response, but most frequently the B and D polypeptides are involved. Because the BB'Sm proteins share cross-reactive epitopes (PPPGMRPP) with U1 specific ribonucleoproteins, which are more frequently targeted by antibodies that are present in patients with mixed connective tissue disease, the SmD polypeptides are regarded as the Sm autoantigens that are most specific to SLE. It was recently shown that the polypeptides D1, D3 and BB' contain symmetrical dimethylarginine, which is a component of a major autoepitope within the carboxyl-terminus of SmD1. In one of those studies, a synthetic dimethylated peptide of SmD1 (amino acids 95–119) exhibited significantly increased immunoreactivity as compared with unmodified SmD1 peptide. Using immobilized peptides, we confirmed that the dimethylated arginine residues play an essential role in the formation of major SmD1 and SmD3 autoepitopes. Moreover, we demonstrated that one particular peptide of SmD3 represents a more sensitive and more reliable substrate for the detection of a subclass of anti-Sm antibodies. Twenty-eight out of 176 (15.9%) SLE patients but only one out of 449 (0.2%) control individuals tested positive for the anti-SmD3 peptide (SMP) antibodies in a new ELISA system. These data indicate that anti-SMP antibodies are exclusively present in sera from SLE patients. Thus, anti-SMP detection using ELISA represents a new serological marker with which to diagnose and discriminate between systemic autoimmune disorders.
PMCID: PMC1064884  PMID: 15642139
anti-Sm; autoantibody; ELISA; epitope; systemic lupus erythematosus
14.  Giantin is the major Golgi autoantigen in human anti-Golgi complex sera 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2003;6(2):R95-R102.
Anti-Golgi complex antibodies (AGAs) are primarily associated with systemic lupus erythematosus and Sjögren's syndrome. Here we report on the immunoreactivity of AGAs against five Golgi autoantigens (giantin, golgin-245, golgin-160, golgin-95/GM130, and golgin-97) and provide data from epitope mapping on the most common Golgi autoantigen, namely giantin. A total of 80 human sera containing AGAs, as defined by indirect immunofluorescence on HEp-2 cells, were analyzed by ELISA using recombinant autoantigens and immunoprecipitation. The proportion of AGA sera that reacted with the five Golgi autoantigens was correlated with the molecular mass of the Golgi antigens. Autoantibodies to giantin, the largest Golgi autoantigen, were the predominant AGAs, being found in 50% of the AGA sera. Epitope mapping of giantin was performed using six recombinant fragments spanning the entire protein. Antigiantin-positive sera with low titer autoantibodies recognized epitopes in the carboxyl-terminal fragments that are proximal to the Golgi membrane, whereas higher titer sera exhibited strong reactivity to amino-terminal and central domains that are likely to extend from the Golgi membrane into the cytoplasm. Our working hypothesis is that aberrantly expressed Golgi complex autoantigens may be released into the immune system when cells undergo lysis. By virtue of a carboxyl-terminal transmembrane domain, giantin is likely to be more stably associated with the cytoplasmic face of the Golgi complex than are other golgins, which are peripheral proteins. The stable association of giantin with the putative released Golgi complex may contribute to its preferential autoantigenicity.
PMCID: PMC400427  PMID: 15059272
anti-Golgi complex antibody; autoantibody; autoimmunity; cell death; epitope mapping
15.  The use and abuse of commercial kits used to detect autoantibodies 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2003;5(4):192-201.
The detection of autoantibodies in human sera is an important approach to the diagnosis and management of patients with autoimmune conditions. To meet market demands, manufacturers have developed a wide variety of easy to use and cost-effective diagnostic kits that are designed to detect a variety of human serum autoantibodies. A number of studies over the past two decades have suggested that there are limitations and concerns in the use and clinical application of test results derived from commercial kits. It is important to appreciate that there is a complex chain of users and circumstances that contributes to variations in the apparent reliability of commercial kits. The goal of this review is to identify the principal links in this chain, to identify the factors that weaken the chain and to propose a plan of resolution. It is suggested that a higher level of commitment and partnership between all of the participants is required to achieve the goal of improving the quality of patient care through the use of autoantibody testing and analysis.
PMCID: PMC165068  PMID: 12823850
autoantibodies; autoimmunity; diagnosis; diagnostic kits; quality assurance; standardization

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