, Volume 88, Issue 7, pp 719-727

Ribosomal P autoantibodies are present before SLE onset and are directed against non-C-terminal peptides

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Abstract

Autoantibodies to ribosomal P (ribo P) are found in 15–30% of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients and are highly specific for SLE. The goal of this study is to assess the temporal association of anti-ribosomal P (anti-P) responses with SLE disease onset, as well as to characterize select humoral ribo P epitopes targeted in early, pre-diagnostic SLE samples. Patients with stored serial serum samples available prior to SLE diagnosis were identified from a military cohort. Each sample was tested for antibodies against ribo P utilizing standard C terminus ribo P enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) and a solid phase, bead-based assay with affinity-purified ribo P proteins. In this study, antibodies to ribo P were more common in African American SLE patients (p = 0.026), and anti-P-positive patients comprised a group with more measured autoantibody specificities than did other SLE patients (3.5 vs 2.2, p < 0.05). Antibodies against ribo P were present on average 1.7 years before SLE diagnosis and were detected an average of 1.08 years earlier in pre-diagnostic SLE samples using affinity-purified whole protein rather than C-terminal peptide alone (p = 0.0019). Furthermore, 61% of anti-P-positive patients initially had antibodies to aa 99–113, a known ribosomal P0 antigenic target, at a time point when no antibodies to the clinically used C terminus were detected. Our findings provide evidence that antibodies against ribosomal P frequently develop before clinical SLE diagnosis and are more broadly reactive than previously thought by targeting regions outside of the C terminus.

Latisha D. Heinlen and Lauren L. Ritterhouse contributed equally to this work.