Autoantibodies to mRNA processing pathways (glycine and tryptophan-rich bodies antibodies): prevalence and clinical utility in a South Australian cohort

Pathology. 2019 Dec;51(7):723-726. doi: 10.1016/j.pathol.2019.07.008. Epub 2019 Oct 17.


Autoantibodies to glycine and tryptophan-rich bodies (GWB) can be detected on routine antinuclear antibodies (ANA) testing and might have important disease associations. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of anti-GWB antibodies identified on routine ANA testing, define their antigenic specificities and describe their clinical association. Anti-GWB antibodies were identified by distinct cytoplasmic staining pattern on all samples referred for ANA testing over a 6-month period. All positive anti-GWB samples were further tested on a multiplex addressable bead immunoassay (ALBIA) with known GWB antigens. Extractable nuclear antigens (ENA) were characterised by line immunoblot assay. Clinical details were collected retrospectively by contacting patients and the requesting clinicians. Eleven patients (7 females, 4 males) out of a total of 2136 positive ANAs requested on 11,265 samples had the classical GWB pattern (0.5%). The median age of patients was 66 years (range 39-92). There was no consistent disease association. Ten were confirmed to have distinct antigenic specificity for known GWB antigens. Ge-1/Hedls and RAP55 were the most common antigenic specificity targets [seen in 7 patients (64%) and in 5 patients (45%), respectively]. Ro52 was positive in 5/9 (56%) patients, SSB in 2/9 (22%) patients and Ro60 in 1/9 (11%) patient. The clinical association of anti-GWB antibodies is uncertain but might point towards autoimmune origin of certain non-specific musculoskeletal symptoms. The antigenic specificity of anti-GWB reactivity could point towards specific clinical associations: anti-RAP55 and Ge-1 in non-specific musculoskeletal conditions versus anti-GW182 in neurological diseases.

Keywords: ALBIA; ANA; Glycine and tryptophan-rich bodies; anti-GWB; autoantibodies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / immunology*
  • Antigens, Nuclear / immunology*
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cytoplasm / pathology
  • Demography
  • Epitopes
  • Female
  • Glycine
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay
  • Immunoblotting
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Messenger / immunology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • South Australia
  • Tryptophan


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Antigens, Nuclear
  • Autoantibodies
  • Epitopes
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tryptophan
  • Glycine