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Arthritis Rheum. 2011 Mar;63(3):713-21. doi: 10.1002/art.30156.

Autoantibodies against 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase in patients with statin-associated autoimmune myopathy.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. amammen@jhmi.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

In addition to inducing a self-limited myopathy, statin use is associated with an immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy (IMNM), with autoantibodies that recognize ∼200-kd and ∼100-kd autoantigens. The purpose of this study was to identify these molecules to help clarify the disease mechanism and facilitate diagnosis.

METHODS:

The effect of statin treatment on autoantigen expression was addressed by immunoprecipitation using sera from patients. The identity of the ∼100-kd autoantigen was confirmed by immunoprecipitation of in vitro-translated 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR) protein. HMGCR expression in muscle was analyzed by immunofluorescence. A cohort of myopathy patients was screened for anti-HMGCR autoantibodies by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and genotyped for the rs4149056 C allele, a predictor of self-limited statin myopathy.

RESULTS:

Statin exposure induced expression of the ∼200-kd/∼100-kd autoantigens in cultured cells. HMGCR was identified as the ∼100-kd autoantigen. Competition experiments demonstrated no distinct autoantibodies recognizing the ∼200-kd protein. In muscle biopsy tissues from anti-HMGCR-positive patients, HMGCR expression was up-regulated in cells expressing neural cell adhesion molecule, a marker of muscle regeneration. Anti-HMGCR autoantibodies were found in 45 of 750 patients presenting to the Johns Hopkins Myositis Center (6%). Among patients ages 50 years and older, 92.3% had taken statins. The prevalence of the rs4149056 C allele was not increased in patients with anti-HMGCR.

CONCLUSION:

Statins up-regulate the expression of HMGCR, the major target of autoantibodies in statin-associated IMNM. Regenerating muscle cells express high levels of HMGCR, which may sustain the immune response even after statins are discontinued. These studies demonstrate a mechanistic link between an environmental trigger and the development of sustained autoimmunity. Detection of anti-HMGCR autoantibodies may facilitate diagnosis and direct therapy.

Copyright © 2011 by the American College of Rheumatology.

PMID:
21360500
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3335400
Free PMC Article

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