Introduction: Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory joint disease causing articular cartilage and bone destruction. Since irreversible joint destruction can be prevented by intervention at the early stages of disease, early diagnosis of RA is important. In this study, we identified new autoantibodies in the sera of patients with early (less than one year) RA.
Methods: We screened the sera of 20 RA patients with disease duration less than one year, 19 RA patients with disease duration more than five years and 23 controls on 8,268 human protein arrays. We confirmed the validity of protein array detection by ELISA assays. We then performed epitope mapping with overlapping 15-mers to analyze RA sera reactivity.
Results: WIBG (within BGCN homolog (Drosophila)), GABARAPL2 (GABA(A) receptor associated protein like 2) and ZNF706 (zinc finger protein 706) proteins are preferentially recognized by autoantibodies from early RA patients. Of interest, autoantibodies to WIBG are very specific for early RA. Indeed, 33% of early RA patients' sera recognize WIBG versus 5% of RA patients with disease duration more than 5 years and 2% of controls. We identified three linear peptides on WIBG GABARAPL2 and ZNF706 that are preferentially recognized by sera of early RA patients.
Conclusions: We identified new autoantibodies associated with RA with disease duration less than one year. These autoantibodies could be used as diagnosis markers in RA patients.