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Open Access Research article

Identification and characterization of the carboxy-terminal region of Sip-1, a novel autoantigen in Behçet's disease

Federica Delunardo1, Fabrizio Conti2, Paola Margutti1, Cristiano Alessandri2, Roberta Priori2, Alessandra Siracusano1, Rachele Riganò1, Elisabetta Profumo1, Guido Valesini2, Maurizio Sorice3 and Elena Ortona1*

Author Affiliations

1 Dipartimento di Malattie Infettive, Parassitarie e Immunomediate, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

2 Dipartimento di Clinica e Terapia Medica Applicata, Cattedra di Reumatologia, Università "La Sapienza", Rome, Italy

3 Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale e Patologia, Università "La Sapienza", Rome, Italy

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2006, 8:R71  doi:10.1186/ar1940

Published: 12 April 2006

Abstract

Given the lack of a serological test specific for Behçet's disease, its diagnosis rests upon clinical criteria. The clinical diagnosis is nevertheless difficult because the disease manifestations vary widely, especially at the onset of disease. The aim of this study was to identify molecules specifically recognized by serum autoantibodies in patients with Behçet's disease and to evaluate their diagnostic value. We screened a cDNA library from human microvascular endothelial cells with serum IgG from two patients with Behçet's disease and isolated a reactive clone specific to the carboxy-terminal subunit of Sip1 (Sip1 C-ter). Using ELISA, we measured IgG, IgM and IgA specific to Sip1 C-ter in patients with various autoimmune diseases characterized by the presence of serum anti-endothelial cell antibodies, such as Behçet's disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis and various forms of primary vasculitis, as well as in patients with diseases that share clinical features with Behçet's disease, such as inflammatory bowel disease and uveitis. IgM immunoreactivity to Sip1 C-ter was significantly higher in patients with Behçet's disease and in patients with primary vasculitis than in the other groups of patients and healthy subjects tested (P < 10-4 by Mann-Whitney test). ELISA detected IgG specific to Sip1 C-ter in sera from 11/56 (20%) patients with Behçet's disease, IgM in 23/56 (41%) and IgA in 9/54 (17%). No sera from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, uveitis or healthy subjects but 45% of sera from patients with primary vasculitis contained IgM specific to Sip1 C-ter. Serum levels of soluble E-selectin, a marker of endothelial activation and inflammation, correlated with levels of serum IgM anti Sip-1 C-ter in patients with Behçet's disease (r = 0.36, P = 0.023). In conclusion, Sip1 C-ter is a novel autoantigen in Behçet's disease. IgM specific to Sip1 C-ter might be useful in clinical practice as an immunological marker of endothelial dysfunction in vasculitis.