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Kidney Int. 2008 Nov;74(9):1159-69. doi: 10.1038/ki.2008.309. Epub 2008 Jul 2.

ANCA patients have T cells responsive to complementary PR-3 antigen.

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Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Department of Medicine, UNC Kidney Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.


Some patients with proteinase 3 specific anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibodies (PR3-ANCA) also have antibodies that react to complementary-PR3 (cPR3), a protein encoded by the antisense RNA of the PR3 gene. To study whether patients with anti-cPR3 antibodies have cPR3-responsive memory T cells we selected conditions that allowed cultivation of memory cells but not naïve cells. About half of the patients were found to have CD4+TH1 memory cells responsive to the cPR3(138-169)-peptide; while only a third of the patients had HI-PR3 protein responsive T cells. A significant number of T cells from patients responded to cPR3(138-169) peptide and to HI-PR3 protein by proliferation and/or secretion of IFN-gamma, compared to healthy controls while there was no response to scrambled peptide. Cells responsive to cPR3(138-169)-peptide were not detected in MPO-ANCA patients suggesting that this response is specific. The HLADRB1(*) 15 allele was significantly overrepresented in our patient group and is predicted to bind cPR3(138-169) peptide with high affinity. Regression analysis showed a significant likelihood that anti-cPR3 antibodies and cPR3-specific T cells coexist in individuals, consistent with an immunological history of encounter with a PR3-complementary protein. We suggest that the presence of cells reacting to potential complementary protein pairs might provide an alternative mechanism for auto-immune diseases.

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