"Ubiquitous Self-Antigen" Trigger of Human RA Unmasked in Mouse Studies

November 3, 2014

Japanese investigators analyzing autoimmune T cells believe they have found the underlying drivers of rheumatoid arthritis.

Ito Y, Hashish M, Hi rota K, et al.Detection of T cell responses to a ubiquitous cellular protein in autoimmune disease. Science, 17 October 2014: 346(6207):363-368. DOI:10.1126/science.1259077

Japanese researchers believe they have pinpointed an autoimmune T cell target that may trigger rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Their early results in a mouse model may improve the understanding of the underlying drivers of autoimmunity, they explain.

They zero in on 60s ribosomal protein L23a (RPL23A) – referring to it as a “ubiquitous self antigen” – and confirm that T cells and autoantibodies from humans with RA react to it.

Isolating T cells that mediate autoimmune disease can be difficult, because they’re deleted or inactivated in the thymus, the investigators state. They altered T-cell receptor signaling to help the cells escape thymic inactivation.