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Degenerated human intervertebral discs contain autoantibodies against extracellular matrix proteins.

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Degenerated human intervertebral discs contain autoantibodies against extracellular matrix proteins.

Eur Cell Mater. 2014;27:251-63

Authors: Capossela S, Schläfli P, Bertolo A, Janner T, Stadler BM, Pötzel T, Baur M, Stoyanov JV

Degeneration of intervertebral discs (IVDs) is associated with back pain and elevated levels of inflammatory cells. It has been hypothesised that discogenic pain is a direct result of vascular and neural ingrowth along annulus fissures, which may expose the avascular nucleus pulposus (NP) to the systemic circulation and induce an autoimmune reaction. In this study, we confirmed our previous observation of antibodies in human degenerated and post-traumatic IVDs cultured in vitro. We hypothesised that the presence of antibodies was due to an autoimmune reaction against specific proteins of the disc. Furthermore we identified antigens which possibly trigger an autoimmune response in degenerative disc diseases. We demonstrated that degenerated and post-traumatic IVDs contain IgG antibodies against typical extracellular proteins of the disc, particularly proteins of the NP. We identified IgGs against collagen type II and aggrecan, confirming an autoimmune reaction against the normally immune privileged NP. We also found specific IgGs against collagens types I and V, but not against collagen type III. In conclusion, this study confirmed the association between disc degeneration and autoimmunity, and may open the avenue for future studies on developing prognostic, diagnostic and therapy-monitoring markers for degenerative disc diseases.

PMID: 24706108 [PubMed – in process]

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