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J Proteome Res. 2013 Oct 4;12(10):4522-31. doi: 10.1021/pr400589m. Epub 2013 Sep 24.

Association between galactosylation of immunoglobulin G and improvement of rheumatoid arthritis during pregnancy is independent of sialylation.

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Department of Rheumatology, Erasmus University Medical Center , 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is known to improve during pregnancy and to flare after delivery. Changes in the glycosylation of immunoglobulin G (IgG)'s fragment crystallizable (Fc) have been suggested to play a role herein. Recent animal studies indicate that not galactosylation but mainly sialylation is important in this respect. We aim to find new associations between IgG-Fc N-glycosylation and improvement of RA during pregnancy and the flare after delivery. Sera of RA patients (n = 251 pregnancies) and healthy controls (n = 32), all participating in a prospective cohort study on RA and pregnancy (PARA study), were collected before conception, during pregnancy, and after delivery. Using a recently developed fast and robust nanoRP-HPLC-sheath-flow-ESI-MS method the glycosylation of IgG Fc-glycopeptides was measured in a subclass specific manner, with relative standard deviations of <4% for the 8 most abundant IgG Fc glycopeptides during the entire measurement period of over 3 weeks. In patients and controls, several glycosylation changes were observed during pregnancy. In depth analysis of the association of these glycosylation changes with disease activity revealed that galactosylation, independent of sialylation, is associated with improvement of RA during pregnancy. Functional studies in human cell systems should be performed to obtain more insight into this matter.

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