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Rheumatol Int. 2012 May;32(5):1271-6. doi: 10.1007/s00296-010-1765-y. Epub 2011 Jan 26.

Anti-PAD4 autoantibodies in rheumatoid arthritis: levels in serum over time and impact on PAD4 activity as measured with a small synthetic substrate.

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Centre for Immune Regulation, Institute of Immunology, University of Oslo, Oslo University Hospital-Rikshospitalet, 0027 Oslo, Norway.


Isoform 4 of the human peptidylarginine deiminase (hPAD4) enzyme may be responsible for the citrullination of antigens in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and has been shown to be itself the target of disease-specific autoantibodies. Here, we have tested whether the level of serum anti-hPAD4 antibodies in RA patients is stable over a period of 10 years and whether the antibodies influence hPAD4-mediated deimination of the small substrate N-α-benzoyl-L-arginine ethyl ester. RA sera (n = 128) obtained at baseline and after 10 years were assessed for anti-hPAD4 antibodies by a specific immunoassay. For 118 RA patients, serum anti-hPAD4 IgG levels were stable over 10 years. Seven patients who were negative for anti-PAD4 IgG at baseline had become positive after 10 years. Further, total IgG from selected RA patients and controls were purified, and a fraction was depleted for anti-hPAD4 antibodies. Kinetic deimination assays were performed with total IgG and depleted fractions. The k ( cat ) and K ( m ) values of hPAD4-mediated deimination of N-α-benzoyl-L-arginine ethyl ester were not affected by the depletion of the anti-hPAD4 antibodies from the total IgG pool. In conclusion, RA patients remain positive for anti-hPAD4 antibodies over time and some patients who are initially anti-hPAD4 negative become positive later in the disease course. The anti-hPAD4 antibodies did not affect the enzymatic activity of hPAD4 when the small substrate N-α-benzoyl-L-arginine ethyl ester was used. However, this finding may not exclude an effect of these autoantibodies on citrullination of protein substrates in RA.

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