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Evidence for direct anti-heparin-sulphate reactivity in sera of SLE patients

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Recently it has been suggested that anti-dsDNA antibodies (Abs) promote tissue damage in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) by cross-reactivity with highly negatively charged tissue components such as heparan sulphate (HS), the major glycosaminoglycan of the glomerular basement membrane (GBM). Other authors, however, support the theory of DNA-anti-dsDNA immune complex deposition in situ. To further elucidate the possible role of HS antibodies, we developed a new ELISA system with heparan sulphate bound to solid phase. SLE patients (n=40) showed a higher reactivity against HS (mean=28.4, SD=34.3) as compared to normal donors (n=28, mean=15.2, SD=6.3) and patients with rheumatoid arthritis (n=35, mean=14.3, SD=6.4). The addition of native dsDNA or HS to SLE sera was followed by a dose-dependent reduction in anti-HS reactivity. In contrast, in an anti-dsDNA ELISA, no reduction was observed when HS was added to SLE sera. An increase in reactivity was observed when SLE sera with and without a prior incubation with dsDNA were digested with DNAse I or II. After the purification of serum samples by protein A sepharose under dissociative conditions, seven out of eight SLE patients showed an increase in anti-HS reactivity. No correlation of the anti-HS Abs was found with organ involvement or other serological parameters. We concluded, that there is evidence for a direct anti-HS Ab reactivity in SLE sera. A part of these antibodies seems to show low avidity anti-dsDNA cross-reactivity.

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Correspondence to K. Pirner.

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Pirner, K., Rascu, A., Nürnberg, W. et al. Evidence for direct anti-heparin-sulphate reactivity in sera of SLE patients. Rheumatol Int 14, 169–174 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00579703

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Key words

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Lupus nephritis
  • Heparan sulphate
  • Antibodies