Induction of arthritis and uveitis in Lewis rats by antigenic mimicry of peptides from HLA-B27 and cytokeratin

Eur J Immunol. 2002 Jan;32(1):299-306. doi: 10.1002/1521-4141(200201)32:1<299::AID-IMMU299>3.0.CO;2-Q.


Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is highly associated with HLA-B27. We have previously shown that peripheral blood lymphocytes from AS patients respond to stimulation with a peptide from the sequence of HLA-B27. Here we report on molecular mimicry of peptides from HLA-B27 and cytokeratin, the latter being specifically expressed in synovial membranes and eyes, the main targets of the autoaggressive immune response in AS patients. Immunization of rats with these peptides induced an inflammatory response in joints, spine and eyes, resembling the symptoms in AS. Furthermore, both HLA-B27- and cytokeratin-derived peptides, are effective oral tolerogens: feeding these peptides ameliorated arthritis and uveitis induced with the cytokeratin peptide. Our model might elucidate the role of peptides from the sequence of HLA-B27 as an antigen of the immune response in AS, introducing a new aspect of antigenic mimicry between HLA-B27 and tissue-specific antigens. We propose this as a mechanism directing a systemic autoimmune response to specific target organs by antigenic mimicry of T cell epitopes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Arthritis / chemically induced
  • Arthritis / immunology*
  • Arthritis / pathology
  • Cross Reactions
  • Female
  • HLA-B27 Antigen / immunology*
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Keratins / immunology*
  • Male
  • Molecular Mimicry / immunology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptides / adverse effects
  • Peptides / immunology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Uveitis / chemically induced
  • Uveitis / immunology*
  • Uveitis / pathology


  • HLA-B27 Antigen
  • Peptides
  • Keratins