Introduction: Increasing evidence has suggested that linear epitopes of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA) directed to myeloperoxidase (MPO) might provide clues to the pathogenesis of propylthiouracil (PTU)-induced ANCA-associated vasculitis (AAV). This study mapped epitopes of MPO-ANCA in sera from patients with PTU-induced MPO-ANCA (with or without vasculitis) and primary AAV, aiming to analyze certain epitopes associated with the development of PTU-induced AAV.
Methods: Six recombinant linear fragments, covering the whole amino acid sequence of a single chain of MPO, were produced from Escherichia coli. Sera from 17 patients with PTU-induced AAV, 17 patients with PTU-induced MPO-ANCA but without clinical evidence of vasculitis, and 64 patients with primary AAV were collected at presentation. Of the 17 patients with PTU-induced AAV, 12 also had sera at remission. The epitope specificities were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay by using the recombinant fragments as solid-phase ligands.
Results: Compared with patients with PTU-induced MPO-ANCA but without clinical vasculitis, sera from PTU-induced AAV patients showed significantly higher reactivity against the H1 fragment of MPO (optical density values: 0.17 (0.10 to 0.35) versus 0.10 (0.04 to 0.21), P = 0.038) and could recognize a significantly higher number of fragments (two (none to four) versus one (none to two), P = 0.026). Compared with sera from primary AAV patients, sera from PTU-induced AAV patients had significantly higher reactivity to the P fragment and the H4 fragment (47.1% versus 14.1% P < 0.001; 41.2% versus 14.1%, P = 0.034, respectively), and could recognize a significantly higher number of fragments (two (none to four) versus one (none to two), P = 0.013]. Among the 12 PTU-induced AAV patients with sequential samples, the number of fragments recognized in remission was significantly less than that in initial onset (two (none to four) versus none (none to 0.75), P < 0.001].
Conclusions: Linear epitopes of MPO molecules might be associated closely with PTU-induced AAV. In particular, the P and H4 fragments may be important epitopes in PTU-induced AAV.