Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a common, inflammatory rheumatic disease that primarily affects the axial skeleton and is associated with sacroiliitis, uveitis, and enthesitis. Unlike other autoimmune rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus, autoantibodies have not yet been reported to be a feature of AS. We therefore wished to determine whether plasma from patients with AS contained autoantibodies and, if so, characterize and quantify this response in comparison to patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and healthy controls. Two high density nucleic acid programmable protein arrays expressing a total of 3498 proteins were screened with plasma from 25 patients with AS, 17 with RA, and 25 healthy controls. Autoantigens identified were subjected to Ingenuity Pathway Analysis to determine the patterns of signaling cascades or tissue origin. 44% of patients with ankylosing spondylitis demonstrated a broad autoantibody response, as compared with 33% of patients with RA and only 8% of healthy controls. Individuals with AS demonstrated autoantibody responses to shared autoantigens, and 60% of autoantigens identified in the AS cohort were restricted to that group. The autoantibody responses in the AS patients were targeted toward connective, skeletal, and muscular tissue, unlike those of RA patients or healthy controls. Thus, patients with AS show evidence of systemic humoral autoimmunity and multispecific autoantibody production. Nucleic acid programmable protein arrays constitute a powerful tool to study autoimmune diseases.
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