Autoantigens Identified by Screening a Human Heart cDNA Library with Acute Rheumatic Fever Sera

R TOWERS, M BOLM, Bart Currie, G CHHATWAL, Peter Fagan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Acute rheumatic fever (ARF) is an autoimmune sequela of group A streptococcal infection mostly affecting school-aged children. Recurrent episodes of ARF can result in the development of rheumatic heart disease (RHD). One in 40 indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory is affected by RHD. This disease mostly impacts young people; 45% of those who require heart valve surgery in Australia due to RHD are younger than 25 years old. ARF is characterized by autoimmune attack of the heart; therefore, the presence of the autoantibodies involved could potentially be used to diagnose ARF. To this end, a human heart cDNA library was screened with serum from a patient with ARF, and 12 autoreactive human heart antigens were identified. They include five different IgG heavy chains and a range of tissue-specific cell-signaling proteins, species of which have been implicated in other autoimmune diseases. Preliminary ELISA results show that ARF patients have significantly higher levels of antibodies recognizing the cardiac autoantigens than controls. These antigens are promising candidates for the development of a serological assay for the diagnosis of ARF. The nature of the proteins identified has exciting implications for future research into the pathogenesis of ARF. � 2009 New York Academy of Sciences.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)83-91
    Number of pages9
    JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
    Issue numberContemporary Challenges in Autoimmunity
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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