Nanoparticles derived from the elongated flexuous capsids of Turnip mosaic virus (TuMV) have been shown to be efficient tools for antibody sensing with a very high sensitivity if adequately functionalized with the corresponding epitopes. Taking advantage of this possibility, TuMV virus-like particles (VLPs) have been genetically derivatized with a peptide from the chaperonin Hsp60, a protein described to be involved in inflammation processes and autoimmune diseases. Antibodies against the peptide have been previously shown to have a diagnostic value in at least one autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis. The functionalized Hsp60-VLPs showed their significant increase in sensing potency when compared to monoclonal antibody detection of the peptide in a conventional immunoassay. Additionally, the developed Hsp60-VLPs allowed the detection of autoantibodies against the Hsp60 peptide in an in vivo mouse model of dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis. The detection of minute amounts of the autoantibodies allowed us to perform the analysis of their evolution during the progression of the disease. The anti-Hsp60 autoantibody levels in the sera of the inflamed mice went down during the induction phase of the disease. Increased levels of the anti-HSP60 autoantibodies were detected during the resolution phase of the disease. An extension of a previously proposed model for the involvement of Hsp60 in inflammatory processes is considered, incorporating a role for Hsp60 autoantibodies. This, and related models, can now be experimentally tested thanks to the autoantibody detection hypersensitivity provided by the functionalized VLPs.
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