Bo, Marco and Niegowska, Magdalena and Erre, Gian Luca and Piras, Marco and Longu, Maria Giovanna and Manchia, Pierangela and Manca, Mario and Passiu, Giuseppe and Sechi, Leonardo Antonio (2018) Rheumatoid arthritis patient antibodies highly recognize IL-2 in the immune response pathway involving IRF5 and EBV antigens. Scientific reports, Vol. 8 (1789). eISSN 2045-2322. Article.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by a progressive joint damage due to largely unknown environmental factors acting in concert with risk alleles conferring genetic susceptibility. A major role has been attributed to viral infections that include past contacts with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and, more recently, to non-protein coding sequences of human endogenous retrovirus K (HERV-K) integrated in the human genome. Molecular mimicry between viral and self proteins is supposed to cause the loss of immune tolerance in predisposed hosts. There are evidences that anti-IL-2 antibodies (Abs) are present in subjects affected by autoimmune diseases and may be responsible for alterations in regulatory T cell responses. In this study, we evaluated the levels of Abs against IL-2, viral epitopes and interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5) in 140 RA patients and 137 healthy controls (HCs). Ab reactivity reached the highest levels for IRF5, EBV and IL-2 (56%, 44% and 39%, respectively) in RA with significantly lower values among HCs (7–9%, p < 0.0001), which suggests a possible cross-reaction between IRF5/EBV homologous antigens and shifts in T cell balance disrupted by anti-IL-2 Abs.
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