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ABSTRACT: This study was undertaken to investigate the presence of autoantibodies against the main cartilage proteoglycan, aggrecan, in systemic rheumatic disease sera, and to identify substructure(s) responsible for the autoimmune response.
Sera were obtained from 86 patients with various systemic rheumatic diseases, 14 with osteoarthritis (OA), 18 with cancer and 40 healthy individuals. The presence of autoantibodies against aggrecan was examined by a solid phase assay and by Western blotting, using proteoglycan aggregates treated with proteolytic enzymes. The positive bands were subjected to nanohigh performance liquid chromatography (nanoHPLC)-MS, in order to identify the aggrecan substructures involved in the autoimmune response.
Autoantibodies against aggrecan were identified in all systemic rheumatic disease sera at a high titre, almost three times that observed in healthy controls. OA and cancer sera produced a reaction equal to that of the healthy. Western blotting analysis of aggrecan proteolytic fragments revealed the presence of a triple band, reacting with the patients' sera, of about 37 kDa, which also reacted with a polyclonal antibody against hyaluronan-binding region. NanoHPLC-MS analysis suggested that this band belonged to the G2 domain of aggrecan.
At least a part of the autoimmune reaction to aggrecan, displayed by the systemic disease sera, involves the G2 domain. The significant difference observed between these sera and those from other diseases, especially cancer, may suggest a possible discriminatory role of anti-aggrecan antibodies. This may help in the differential diagnosis in complicated clinical cases. However, for this to be confirmed, studies in larger cohorts of patients should be performed.
Biochimie 08/2006; 88(7):767-73. · 3.14 Impact Factor