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J Pept Sci. 2009 Oct;15(10):621-8. doi: 10.1002/psc.1166.

The use of post-translationally modified peptides for detection of biomarkers of immune-mediated diseases.

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  • 1Laboratory of Peptide & Protein Chemistry & Biology, Department of Chemistry, University of Florence, Polo Scientifico e Tecnologico, Via della Lastruccia 13, I-50019 Sesto Fiorentino, Italy.


Biomarkers are decision-making tools at the basis of clinical diagnostics and essential for guiding therapeutic treatments. In this context, autoimmune diseases represent a class of disorders that need early diagnosis and steady monitoring. These diseases are usually associated with humoral or cell-mediated immune reactions against one or more of the body's own constituents. Autoantibodies fluctuating in biological fluids can be used as disease biomarkers and they can be, thus, detected by diagnostic immunoassays using native autoantigens. However, it is now accepted that post-translational modifications may affect the immunogenicity of self-protein antigens, triggering an autoimmune response and creating neo-antigens. In this case, post-translationally modified peptides represent a more valuable tool with respect to isolated or recombinant proteins. In fact, synthetic peptides can be specifically modified to mimic neo-antigens and to selectively detect autoantibodies as disease biomarkers. A 'chemical reverse approach' to select synthetic peptides, bearing specific post-translational modifications, able to fishing out autoantibodies from patients' biological fluids, can be successfully applied for the development of specific in vitro diagnostic/prognostic assays of autoimmune diseases. Herein, we report the successful application of this approach to the identification of biomarkers in different autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

2009 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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