Objective: To observe the order of development of anti-U1 RNP peptide antibodies in humans.
Methods: Immunoblots against Jurkat cell lysates were performed on 5,882 serum samples from 3,668 patients referred on clinical grounds for RNP antibody testing to a reference laboratory between 1989 and 1999. In patients from whom multiple samples were drawn, we determined the order in which IgG antibodies to the U1 RNP peptides A, B'/B, C, D, and 70 kd appeared.
Results: One hundred sixty-three patients with serial samples were identified in whom antibodies to at least one U1 RNP peptide initially were not present but later appeared. The first RNP antibodies to appear were most often directed against the 70 kd and B'/B peptides (P < 0.01). Antibodies to the A and C peptides usually developed after other RNP peptide antibodies, and antibodies to D often emerged only after immunity to multiple other U1 RNP proteins had appeared. B'/B, but not 70 kd, was a frequent early target of spreading after initial immunity to other RNP peptides.
Conclusion: Orderly patterns of emergence of U1 RNP peptide antibodies appear to exist in humans. Two peptides, 70 kd and B'/B, show characteristics of early immunogens in the development of human RNP immunity.