The majority of patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have developed autoantibodies against neoepitopes in proteins that have undergone post-translational modification, e.g., citrullination or carbamylation. There is growing evidence of their molecular relevance and their potential utility to improve diagnosis, patient stratification, and prognosis for precision medicine. Autoantibodies reacting to native proteins may also have a role in RA pathogenesis, however, their reactivity patterns remain much less studied. We hypothesized that a high-density protein array technology could shed light onto the normal and disease-related autoantibodies produced in healthy and RA patient subgroups. In an exploratory study, we investigated the global reactivity of autoantibodies in plasma pools from 15 anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP)-positive and 10 anti-CCP-negative RA patients and 10 healthy donors against more than 1600 native and unmodified human proteins using a high-density protein array. A total of 102 proteins recognized by IgG autoantibodies were identified, hereof 86 were recognized by antibodies from CCP-positive RA patients and 76 from anti-CCP-negative RA patients, but not by antibodies from healthy donors. Twenty-four of the identified autoantigens have previously been identified in synovial fluid. Multiple human proteins in their native conformation are recognized by autoantibodies from anti-CCP-positive as well as anti-CCP-negative RA patients.
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