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Immunol Res. 2015 Feb;61(1-2):117-25. doi: 10.1007/s12026-014-8584-2.

In ACPA-positive RA patients, antibodies to EBNA35-58Cit, a citrullinated peptide from the Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen-1, strongly cross-react with the peptide β60-74Cit which bears the immunodominant epitope of citrullinated fibrin.

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Laboratory of "Epidermis Differentiation and Rheumatoid Autoimmunity", UMR 5165 CNRS - 1056 Inserm - Toulouse University, Toulouse, France.


Although several infectious agents and particularly Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) have been suspected to be involved in aetiology of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), their role still remains elusive. Almost 80% of RA sera contain antibodies to citrullinated proteins/peptides. Among them, the autoantibodies to citrullinated human fibrinogen (AhFibA) are composed of two non-cross-reactive subsets directed to immunodominant epitopes borne by the α36-50Cit and β60-74Cit fibrin peptides. RA sera also contain antibodies towards the citrullinated EBNA35-58Cit peptide derived from the EBNA-1 protein of EBV. Here, using a large cohort of RA patients and controls, we showed that for a diagnostic specificity of 98.5%, 47% of the AhFibA-positive patients were anti-EBNA35-58Cit-positive and that almost all (98.5%) the anti-EBNA35-58Cit-positive were AhFibA-positive, whereas 86% were anti-β60-74Cit-positive and only 43% anti-α36-50Cit-positive. AhFibA, anti-EBNA35-58Cit- and anti-β60-74Cit-antibody titres were significantly correlated. Competition assays showed that anti-EBNA35-58Cit antibodies are highly cross-reactive with the β60-74Cit peptide. The demonstration that a citrullinated peptide derived from the EBNA-1 protein of EBV presents a molecular mimicry with human citrullinated fibrin constitutes an additional argument for a possible role of EBV in RA aetiopathogeny.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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