Casein is an essential cofactor in autoantibody reactivity directed against the C-terminal SmD1 peptide AA 83-119 in systemic lupus erythematosus

Immunobiology. 2002 Dec;206(5):537-45. doi: 10.1078/0171-2985-00202.


The C-terminal peptide SmD1(83-119) has been identified as an important autoantigen in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). ELISA studies have shown that roughly 70% of all sera from patients with SLE react with this peptide. Previous findings revealed that the addition of blocking agents and sample dilution buffers influences the discrimination between positive and negative anti-SmD1(83-119) sera in SLE. The aim of the present study was to identify possible cofactors in the anti-SmD1(83-119) reactivity. We therefore tested SLE sera (n=6) for anti-SmD1(83-119) reactivity by ELISA and analysed the effects of different blocking agents (1% skim milk, 1% gelatin, and 1% BSA). In our investigation, lipids were extracted from skim milk using dichlomethane, and the putative fraction was tested to assess the assay's ability to discriminate between positive and negative sera. The effects of enzymatic digestion by casein were analyzed, and different concentrations of casein were used to determine the role of this protein in the detection of anti-SmD1(83-119) antibodies by ELISA. Furthermore, rabbits were immunized with SmD1(83-119) adsorbed to casein and control proteins. One percent skim milk was the most effective blocking agent and sample dilution buffer for the discrimination between positive and negative sera. As demonstrated by SDS electrophoresis, the discriminative capacity was influenced by enzymatic digestion of skim milk proteins, but not by lipid extraction. Differences in anti-SmD1(83-119) reactivity upon variation of the casein concentration suggest that the protein plays a significant role in the detection of anti-SmD1(83-119) antibodies. However, our immunisation studies did not show any effect of casein on anti-SmD1(83-119) reactivity, suggesting that it has no immunogenic effect on the anti-SmD1(83-119) response. In conclusion, casein seems to be an important cofactor in autoantibody reactivity directed against the C-terminal SmD1(83-119) peptide and probably functions by changing the conformation of the peptide's critical epitope.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • Caseins / immunology*
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Gelatin / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / blood
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Rabbits
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear / immunology*
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear / isolation & purification
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / chemistry
  • snRNP Core Proteins


  • Autoantibodies
  • Autoantigens
  • Caseins
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear
  • SNRPD1 protein, human
  • snRNP Core Proteins
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • Gelatin