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Clin Immunol. 2005 Nov;117(2):112-20. Epub 2005 Aug 10.

Epitope spreading within lupus-associated ribonucleoprotein antigens.

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  • 1Division of Rheumatology and Immunology, Specialized Center of Research on Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Department of Internal Medicine, HSC Box 800412, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


Autoantibodies reactive with several cellular antigens are present in the sera of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Polypeptides within the Ro-RNP complex and the snRNP complex are often targeted by these autoantibodies. One of the mechanisms responsible for their evolution is that of epitope spreading. Experimental animal model systems provide evidence for this. This review discusses the animal model systems of epitope spreading within these ribonucleoprotein antigens, the mechanisms of epitope spreading, and its relevance for disease pathogenesis.

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