Autoantibodies to an estrogen receptor may represent promising markers for scleroderma progression, according to an Italian study.
Giovannetti A, Maselli A, Colasanti T, et al. 2013 Autoantibodies to Estrogen Receptor Î± in Systemic Sclerosis (SSc) as Pathogenetic Determinants and Markers of Progression, PLoS One; (2013) doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074332. First published online: September 18, 2013 (open access).
Autoantibodies to estrogen receptor Î± (anti-ERÎ±) may trigger immune responses in systemic sclerosis (SSc), serving as a potential marker of scleroderma progression, Italian researchers say.
The study of anti-ERÎ± antibodies in 71 consecutive SSc patients reveals serum immunoreactivity in 42% of the group (n=30) - but none among 90 matched healthy serum donor controls - plus a significant association between anti-ERÎ± antibody values and key clinical parameters of disease activity and severity.
Among the SSc patients - predominantly women in their mid-50s with a median disease duration of 8 years - anti-ERÎ± antibodies are twice as prevalent in those with a higher European Scleroderma Study Group (EScSG) activity index, compared with anti-ERÎ±- negative patients.
The study also finds anti-ERÎ± serum antibodies are associated with diffuse SSc, anti-topoisomerase I antibodies (anti-Scl70 antibodies), and late capillaroscopic pattern in the disease.
Additionally, anti-ERÎ± antibody positivity may be linked to greater susceptibility to apoptosis among T cells, leading to an autoantigen overload that initiates or perpetuates an autoimmune response and autoantibody-mediated tissue damage in diseases such as SSc, the researchers write.
Finally, the authors note that apoptotic T cells can trigger release of certain cytokines that play a key role in the pathogenesis of SSc.