Antibodies (Mar 2021)

New Autoantibody Specificities in Systemic Sclerosis and Very Early Systemic Sclerosis

  • Roberto Lande,
  • Raffaella Palazzo,
  • Anna Mennella,
  • Immacolata Pietraforte,
  • Marius Cadar,
  • Katia Stefanantoni,
  • Curdin Conrad,
  • Valeria Riccieri,
  • Loredana Frasca

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 12
p. 12


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Chemokine (C-X-C motif) ligand 4 (CXCL4) is a biomarker of unfavorable prognosis in Systemic Sclerosis (SSc), a potentially severe autoimmune condition, characterized by vasculitis, fibrosis and interferon (IFN)-I-signature. We recently reported that autoantibodies to CXCL4 circulate in SSc patients and correlate with IFN-α. Here, we used shorter versions of CXCL4 and CXCL4-L1, the CXCL4 non-allelic variant, to search for autoantibodies exclusively reacting to one or the other CXCL4 form. Moreover, to address whether anti-CXCL4/CXCL4-L1 antibodies were present before SSc onset and predicted SSc-progression, we longitudinally studied two VEDOSS (Very Early Diagnosis of Systemic Sclerosis) patient cohorts, separating SSc-progressors from SSc-non-progressors. We found that anti-CXCL4-specific autoantibodies were present in both SSc and VEDOSS patients (both SSc-progressors and SSc-non-progressors). Anti-CXCL4-L1-specific autoantibodies were especially detected in long-standing SSc (lsSSc). Anti-CXCL4/CXCL4-L1 antibodies correlated with IFN-α and with specific SSc-skin features but only in lsSSc and not in early SSc (eaSSc) or VEDOSS. Thus, a broader antibody response, with reactivity spreading to CXCL4-L1, is characteristic of lsSSc. The early anti-CXCL4 autoantibody response seems qualitatively different from, and likely less pathogenic than, that observed in advanced SSc. Lastly, we confirm that anti-CXCL4 autoantibodies are SSc-biomarkers and uncover that also CXCL4-L1 becomes an autoantigen in lsSSc.