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Front Immunol. 2018 Jul 9;9:1516. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.01516. eCollection 2018.

In Situ Humoral Immunity to Vimentin in HLA-DRB1*03+ Patients With Pulmonary Sarcoidosis.

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Department of Medicine, Section of Rheumatology, Gwen Knapp Center for Lupus and Immunology Research, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, United States.
Respiratory Medicine Unit, Department of Medicine, Solna and Center for Molecular Medicine, Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital Solna, Stockholm, Sweden.
Proteomics Core Laboratory, Cummings Life Science Center, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, United States.


Vimentin has been implicated in pulmonary sarcoidosis as a T-cell autoantigen, particularly in the context of HLA-DRB1*03, the Vα2.3/Vβ22 T-cell receptor (TCR), and Löfgren's syndrome. As vimentin is a known antigenic target in B-cell-mediated autoimmunity, we investigated in situ humoral anti-vimentin responses in pulmonary sarcoidosis and their relationship with HLA-DRB1*03. Sarcoid and healthy control (HC) lung biopsies were analyzed by multi-color confocal microscopy for B-cells, T-cells, proliferation, and vimentin, and compared to tonsillectomy tissue. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and serum from 48 sarcoidosis patients and 15 healthy volunteers were typed for HLA-DRB1*03 and titrated for antibodies to full-length vimentin, vimentin truncations, and total IgG and IgA by ELISA. Presence of extracellular vimentin in BALF was determined by mass spectrometry and T-cell populations measured by flow cytometry. Sarcoid lung samples, especially from HLA-DRB1*03+ patients, contained vimentin-rich tertiary lymphoid structures and corresponding BALF was highly enriched for both IgG and IgA anti-vimentin antibody (AVA) titers. Furthermore, sarcoidosis patient BALF AVA concentrations (expressed as arbitrary units per milligram of total immunoglobulin isotype) correlated with the percentage of CD4+ T-cells expressing the Vα2.3/Vβ22 TCR. BALF antibody reactivity to the vimentin N-terminus was most prominent in HCs, whereas reactivity to the C-terminus (VimC-term) was enriched in the sarcoid lung. Specifically, HLA-DRB1*03+ patient BALF contained higher concentrations of anti-VimC-term antibodies than BALF from both HCs and HLA-DRB1*03- patients. Consistent with the lung as a site of AVA production, the concentration of AVAs in BALF was dramatically higher than in matched serum samples. Overall, there was a poor correlation between BALF and serum AVA concentrations. Together, these studies reveal the presence of linked in situ recognition of vimentin by both T- and B-cells in HLA-DRB1*03+ sarcoidosis patients, associated with a selective humoral immune response to the vimentin C-terminus.


HLA-DRB1*03; Löfgren’s syndrome; autoantibodies; bronchoalveolar lavage fluid; sarcoidosis; vimentin

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