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Clin Exp Immunol. 2010 Oct;162(1):53-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2010.04188.x. Epub 2010 Aug 20.

New epitopes and function of anti-M3 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor antibodies in patients with Sjögren's syndrome.

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Division of Clinical Immunology, Doctoral Program in Clinical Sciences, Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


M3 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (M3R) plays a crucial role in the secretion of saliva from salivary glands. It is reported that some patients with Sjögren's syndrome (SS) carried inhibitory autoantibodies against M3R. The purpose of this study is to clarify the epitopes and function of anti-M3R antibodies in SS. We synthesized peptides encoding the extracellular domains of human-M3R including the N-terminal region and the first, second and third extracellular loops. Antibodies against these regions were examined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in sera from 42 SS and 42 healthy controls. For functional analysis, human salivary gland (HSG) cells were preincubated with immunoglobulin G (IgG) separated from sera of anti-M3R antibody-positive SS, -negative SS and controls for 12 h. After loading with Fluo-3, HSG cells were stimulated with cevimeline hydrochloride, and intracellular Ca(2+) concentrations [(Ca(2+) )i] were measured. Antibodies to the N-terminal, first, second and third loops were detected in 42·9% (18 of 42), 47·6% (20 of 42), 54·8% (23 of 42) and 45·2% (19 of 42) of SS, while in 4·8% (two of 42), 7·1% (three of 42), 2·4% (one of 42) and 2·4% (one of 42) of controls, respectively. Antibodies to the second loop positive SS-IgG inhibited the increase of (Ca(2+) )i induced by cevimeline hydrochloride. Antibodies to the N-terminal positive SS-IgG and antibodies to the first loop positive SS-IgG enhanced it, while antibodies to the third loop positive SS-IgG showed no effect on (Ca(2+) )i as well as anti-M3R antibody-negative SS-IgG. Our results indicated the presence of several B cell epitopes on M3R in SS. The influence of anti-M3R antibodies on salivary secretion might differ based on these epitopes.

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