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Eur J Immunol. 2012 Apr;42(4):1051-61. doi: 10.1002/eji.201141856.

Chronic smoke exposure induces rheumatoid factor and anti-heat shock protein 70 autoantibodies in susceptible mice and humans with lung disease.

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Department of Medicine, Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


The impact of cigarette smoke (CS), a risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), on sauto-antibody production was studied in humans and mice with and without chronic lung disease (LD). Rheumatoid factor (RF), anti-cyclic citrullinated peptides (CCPs), and anti-HSP70 autoantibodies were measured in several mouse strains and in cohorts of smokers and nonsmokers with and without autoimmune disease. Chronic smoking-induced RFs in AKR/J mice, which are most susceptible to LD. RFs were identified in human smokers, preferentially in those with LD. Anti-HSP70 auto-antibodies were identified in CS-exposed AKR/J mice but not in ambient air exposed AKR/J controls. Whereas inflammation could induce anti-HSP70 IgM, smoke exposure promoted the switch to anti-HSP70 IgG autoantibodies. Elevated anti-CCP autoantibodies were not detected in CS-exposed mice or smokers. AKR/J splenocytes stimulated in vitro by immune complexes (ICs) of HSP70/anti-HSP70 antibodies produced RFs. The CD91 scavenger pathway was required as anti-CD91 blocked the HSP70-IC-induced RF response. Blocking Toll-like receptors did not influence the HSP70-IC-induced RFs. These studies identify both anti-HSP70 and RFs as serological markers of smoke-related LD in humans and mice. Identification of these autoantibodies could suggest a common environmental insult, namely CS, in a number of different disease settings.

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