The purpose of the current study was to analyze the binding patterns of serum autoantibodies from juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and JIA-associated uveitis (JIAU) patients to proteomes from different ocular tissues and to identify potential ocular autoantigens in JIAU. Proteomes from porcine iris, ciliary body, or retina tissue were isolated, separated using 2D-gel electrophoresis, and transferred to a blotting membrane. The binding pattern of serum antibodies from JIA or JIAU patients or healthy controls to ocular proteins was visualized by using anti-human IgG secondary antibodies and chemiluminescence reaction. Selected protein spots were excised from silver-stained 2D gels and subjected to mass spectrometry. Serum antibodies binding to ocular proteins were detected in all patient groups and healthy controls. Irrespective of the patient groups, serum antibodies bound to 49 different protein spots of the retina proteome, to 53 of the ciliary body proteome, and to 44 of the iris proteome. The relative binding frequency of sera to these iris protein spots was significantly higher in JIAU than in JIA patients or healthy controls. Particularly in JIAU patients, cluster analyses indicated a broad range of serum antibodies directed against ocular antigens, mostly in the iris proteome. Iris proteins frequently bound by serum antibodies in all groups were identified as tubulin beta chain, vimentin, ATP synthase subunit beta, actin, and L-lactate dehydrogenase B chain. Iris proteins exclusively bound by JIAU serum antibodies were heat shock cognate 71 kDa protein and keratin. Although serum autoantibody binding to ocular antigens was not disease-specific, a significant diversity of autoantibodies against a broad range of antigens, particularly from the iris tissue, was detected in JIAU patients. As the iris is a major site of inflammation in JIAU, the present data give further evidence that autoantibodies may be involved in JIAU immunopathology.
Keywords: autoantibodies; autoantigens; autoimmunity; juvenile idiopathic arthritis; proteomics; uveitis.