Enhanced Diagnostic Tools
Objective. The anti-La/SSB response to major B cell epitopes of La/SSB can be blocked by an active idiotypic/antiidiotypic network, which can be identified using synthetic complementary epitopes deduced from the sequence of the major B cell epitopes of the molecule. This study evaluated the role of this network in pregnant women with anti-Ro/SSA and/or anti-La/SSB antibodies in the development of neonatal lupus syndrome (NLS).
Methods. Sixty-three serum samples collected from anti-Ro/anti-La–positive women during pregnancy or within 6 months after delivery were obtained from the Research Registry for Neonatal Lupus and the PR Interval Dexamethasone Evaluation study. These samples, as well as 30 sera from healthy individuals, were tested in a blinded manner by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay against synthetic peptides corresponding to major B cell epitopes and complementary epitopes of La/SSB.
Results. Sera from mothers giving birth to a healthy child and having no history of a child with NLS exhibited higher antiidiotypic antibody activity compared with mothers carrying a child with NLS (P < 0.0001) or mothers giving birth to a healthy child but who previously gave birth to a child with NLS (P = 0.0151). Sera from mothers of healthy children, which exhibited no apparent epitope activity against amino acids 349–364, revealed a significantly greater frequency of hidden anti–349–364aa epitope responses, blocked by antiidiotypic antibodies, as compared with sera from women pregnant with an affected child (P = 0.0094).
Conclusion. The presence of antiidiotypic antibodies to autoantibodies against La/SSB may protect the fetus by blocking pathogenic maternal autoantibodies. Testing for these antiidiotypic responses may be useful in predicting a decreased risk of NLS.
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