Objective: To assess whether autoantibodies against ribosomal P (anti-P), which are possibly pathogenic in neuropsychiatric systemic lupus erythematosus (NPSLE), alter glutamatergic synaptic transmission and to what extent the cross-reacting neuronal surface P antigen (NSPA) is involved.
Methods: We analyzed glutamatergic transmission and long-term potentiation (LTP) mediated by AMPA receptor (AMPAR) and N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) by field excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) at the CA3-CA1 synapse. AMPAR activation by patch-clamp recordings in primary ventral spinal cord neurons was analyzed. In primary hippocampal neurons, NSPA distribution was assessed by double immunofluorescence, and intracellular calcium changes were evaluated using Fura-2 AM. NSPA-LacZ reporter-knockin mice expressing a truncated NSPA were used to assess NSPA expression pattern and function in the brain using β-galactosidase staining and comparative electrophysiology, calcium responses, and water maze memory tests.
Results: NSPA was expressed in the brain in hippocampal CA1, dentate gyrus and ventral, but not dorsal, CA3 regions, encompassing postsynaptic regions and partial colocalization with NMDAR. Notably, NSPA-LacZ reporter-knockin mice showed impaired memory, and decreased NMDAR activity and LTP, with neurons insensitive to anti-P autoantibodies. Anti-P autoantibodies enhanced CA1 postsynaptic transmission, increasing AMPAR and NMDAR activity and leading to LTP abrogation after prolonged (20-minute) incubation.
Conclusion: Our findings indicate that the neuronal cell surface target of anti-P, NSPA, is involved in glutamatergic synaptic transmission and plasticity related to memory in the hippocampus, and mediates the deleterious effects of anti-P on these processes. Cognitive impairment, as well as other diffuse NPSLE manifestations, may develop when anti-P autoantibodies have access to brain regions coexpressing NSPA, AMPAR, and NMDAR.
© 2015, American College of Rheumatology.