Background: Atopic eczema (AE) is the most common chronic inflammatory skin disease. Recent data demonstrate the presence of autoreactive serum IgE antibodies correlating with the severity of the disease.
Objective: Although several IgE-binding self-antigens have been reported, the whole repertoire of IgE-binding self-antigens is unknown. We aimed to estimate the repertoire size of autoreactive proteins related to AE and clone, produce, and characterize humoral and T-cell responses against novel self-antigens.
Methods: Phage surface-displayed human cDNA libraries were enriched for clones binding to serum IgE from patients with AE and screened by using high-throughput technology. Selected clones were used to produce the encoded proteins, to test their IgE-binding ability in Western blots and ELISAs, and their ability to induce mediator release from basophils of sensitized individuals.
Results: One hundred forty sequences encoding potential IgE-binding self-antigens associated with AE were identified. Sixteen sequences encoded already described self-antigens. Three new sequences showed homology with environmental allergens, 86 encoded known human proteins, 7 predicted proteins, and 28 showed sequence identity with genomic contigs. Immunoblotting and ELISA experiments demonstrated the presence of IgE antibodies in sera from patients with AE to 5 selected recombinant self-antigens and their ability to induce mediator release from basophils of patients with AE who have self-antigen-specific IgE antibodies.
Conclusion: These data demonstrate a broad spectrum of at least 140 IgE-binding self-antigens associated with AE. By binding IgE antibodies or activating specific T cells, they might promote, perpetuate, or both existing skin inflammation.