Autoantibodies to the epidermal growth factor receptor in systemic sclerosis, lupus, and autoimmune mice

FASEB J. 2003 Feb;17(2):136-43. doi: 10.1096/fj.01-0847com.


Autoantibodies to the recombinant extracellular domain of epidermal growth factor receptor (exEGFR) were detected by ELISA in the serum of Fas-defective old MRL/MpJ/lpr and C3H/HeJ/gld mice, but not young mice from these strains, or nonautoimmune young and old BALB/c, MRL/MpJ/++, and C3H/HeJ/MMTV mice. Compared with control human subjects without autoimmune disease, the frequency of exEGFR-binding autoantibodies was increased in scleroderma (systemic sclerosis) patients and to a lesser extent in lupus patients. Phage autoantibodies (Fv fragments) isolated from a lupus library by selection on a linear epitope of EGFR (residues 294-310) displayed the ability to bind exEGFR. Treatment of EGFR-expressing A431 cells with autoantibodies purified by affinity chromatography on immobilized exEGFR resulted in specific staining of the cells. Short-lived but strong inhibition of cellular DNA synthesis was observed in the presence of the autoantibodies. We concluded that autoantibody responses to EGFR hold the potential of fulfilling a pathogenic role in autoimmune disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Autoantibodies / metabolism
  • Autoantibodies / pharmacology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • DNA / biosynthesis
  • DNA / drug effects
  • ErbB Receptors / immunology*
  • ErbB Receptors / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Fragments / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin Fragments / metabolism
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin G / metabolism
  • Immunoglobulin G / pharmacology
  • Lupus Vulgaris / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Protein Binding
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / immunology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunoglobulin Fragments
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • immunoglobulin Fv
  • DNA
  • ErbB Receptors