Increased antibody levels to stage-specific Epstein-Barr virus antigens in systemic autoimmune diseases reveal a common pathology.
Sternbæk L., Draborg AH., Østerlund MT., Iversen LV., Troelsen L., Theander E., Nielsen CT., Jacobsen S., Houen G.
The immune responses to antigens from different stages of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) life cycle were investigated in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Sjögren's syndrome (SS), and systemic sclerosis (SSc) to gain knowledge of EBV's involvement in the etiology of systemic autoimmune diseases (SADs) and for an overview of the humoral immune responses against EBV. Investigations were performed by the use of ELISA. IgM, IgA, and IgG antibody binding to 11 EBV antigens: EBNA1, EBNA2, BALF5, EAD, BALF2, EA/R, VCA p18, VCA p23, gB, gp350, and gp42 were examined in serum pools from SAD patients and healthy controls (HCs). Increased antibody levels against the 11 EBV antigens in the SAD pools were seen compared to the HC pool. Specifically, SLE was characterized by strongly increased IgA to EAD both compared to HCs and other SADs, and RA was characterized by increased IgM levels to several EBV antigens. The SADs may be partly distinguished by their differential immune responses to various antigens in the EBV life cycle. All together, these findings support an association between EBV infection and SADs.