21-Hydroxylase epitopes are targeted by CD8 T cells in autoimmune Addison's disease.

Endocrinology Service, CHU Sainte-Justine, Department of Pediatrics, Université de Montréal, H3T 1C5 Montréal, Canada.
Journal of Autoimmunity (Impact Factor: 7.02). 12/2010; 35(4):309-15. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaut.2010.07.001
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In autoimmune adrenal deficiency, autoantibodies target the 21-hydroxylase (21OH) protein. However, it is presumed that autoreactive T cells, rather than antibodies, are the main effectors of adrenal gland destruction, but their identification is still lacking. We performed a T-cell epitope mapping study using 49 overlapping 20mer peptides covering the 21OH sequence in patients with isolated Addison's disease, Autoimmune Polyendocrine Syndrome 1 and 2. IFNγ ELISPOT responses against these peptides were stronger, broader and more prevalent among patients than in controls, whatever the disease presentation. Five peptides elicited T-cell responses in patients only (68% sensitivity, 100% specificity). Blocking experiments identified IFNγ-producing cells as CD8 T lymphocytes, with two peptides frequently recognized in HLA-B8+ patients and a third one targeted in HLA-B35+ subjects. In particular, the 21OH(431-450) peptide was highly immunodominant, as it was recognized in more than 30% of patients, all carrying the HLA-B8 restriction element. This 21OH(431-450) region contained an EPLARLEL octamer (21OH(431-438)) predicted to bind to HLA-B8 with high affinity. Indeed, circulating EPLARLEL-specific CD8 T cells were detected at significant frequencies in HLA-B8+ patients but not in controls by HLA tetramer staining. This report enlightens disease-specific T-cell biomarkers and epitopes targeted in autoimmune adrenal deficiency.