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Front Immunol. 2018 Oct 11;9:2365. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.02365. eCollection 2018.

Elevated Autoantibodies in Subacute Human Spinal Cord Injury Are Naturally Occurring Antibodies.

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Laboratory of Neuroinflammation, Hospital Nacional de Paraplejicos, SESCAM, Toledo, Spain.
Center for Spinal Cord Injuries, Trauma Center, Murnau, Germany.
Department of Neurosurgery, Trauma Center, Murnau, Germany.
Spinal Cord Injury and Tissue Regeneration Center Salzburg, Institute of Molecular Regenerative Medicine, Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg, Austria.
Proteomics Core Facility, Hospital Nacional de Paraplejicos, SESCAM, Toledo, Spain.
Department of Physical Rehabilitation, Hospital Nacional de Paraplejicos, SESCAM, Toledo, Spain.
Department of Occupational Health, Hospital Nacional de Paraplejicos, SESCAM, Toledo, Spain.
Intensive Care Unit, Hospital Nacional de Paraplejicos, SESCAM, Toledo, Spain.


Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in long-term neurological and systemic consequences, including antibody-mediated autoimmunity, which has been related to impaired functional recovery. Here we show that autoantibodies that increase at the subacute phase of human SCI, 1 month after lesion, are already present in healthy subjects and directed against non-native proteins rarely present in the normal spinal cord. The increase of these autoantibodies is a fast phenomenon-their levels are already elevated before 5 days after lesion-characteristic of secondary immune responses, further supporting their origin as natural antibodies. By proteomics studies we have identified that the increased autoantibodies are directed against 16 different nervous system and systemic self-antigens related to changes known to occur after SCI, including alterations in neural cell cytoskeleton, metabolism and bone remodeling. Overall, in the context of previous studies, our results offer an explanation to why autoimmunity develops after SCI and identify novel targets involved in SCI pathology that warrant further investigation.


autoimmunity; natural autoantibodies; neurotrauma; proteomics; spinal cord injury

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