Given the immense antigenic load present in the microbiome, we hypothesized that microbiota mimotopes can be a persistent trigger in human autoimmunity via cross-reactivity. Using antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) as a model, we demonstrate cross-reactivity between non-orthologous mimotopes expressed by a common human gut commensal, Roseburia intestinalis (R. int), and T and B cell autoepitopes in the APS autoantigen β2-glycoprotein I (β2GPI). Autoantigen-reactive CD4+ memory T cell clones and an APS-derived, pathogenic monoclonal antibody cross-reacted with R. int mimotopes. Core-sequence-dependent anti-R. int mimotope IgG titers were significantly elevated in APS patients and correlated with anti-β2GPI IgG autoantibodies. R. int immunization of mice induced β2GPI-specific lymphocytes and autoantibodies. Oral gavage of susceptible mice with R. int induced anti-human β2GPI autoantibodies and autoimmune pathologies. Together, these data support a role for non-orthologous commensal-host cross-reactivity in the development and persistence of autoimmunity in APS, which may apply more broadly to human autoimmune disease.
Keywords: Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron; DNA methyltransferase; IgA-coated bacteria; Th1 cell clones; apolipoprotein H; calprotectin; microbiotme; molecular mimicry; systemic autoimmunity; thrombosis.
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