Oxidatively modified autoantigens in autoimmune diseases

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Free radical-mediated oxidative damage and consequent protein modification by the end products of oxidative damage are important mediators of cell toxicity and disease pathogenesis. Aldehydic products, mainly the 4-hydroxy-2-alkenals, form adducts with proteins and make them highly immunogenic. Oxidative modification of proteins has been shown to elicit antibodies in a variety of diseases including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), alcoholic liver disease, diabetes mellitus (DM), and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Oxidatively modified DNA (8-oxodeoxyguanine) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) occur in SLE, a disease in which premature atherosclerosis is a serious problem. In addition, immunization with 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (HNE)-modified 60-kDa Ro autoantigen elicits an accelerated epitope spreading in an animal model of SLE. Advanced glycation end product (AGE) pentosidine and AGE-modified IgG have been shown to correlate with RA disease activity. Oxidatively modified glutamic acid decarboxylase is important in type 1 DM, while autoantibodies against oxidized LDL are prevalent in Behcet’s disease. The fragmentation of scleroderma-specific autoantigens occurs as a result of oxidative modification and is thought to be responsible for the production of autoantibodies through the release of cryptic epitopes. In the face of overwhelming evidence for the involvement of oxidative damage in autoimmunity the administration of antioxidants is a viable untried alternative for preventing or ameliorating autoimmune disease, although results in cardiovascular disease are disappointing.

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