The Use of the Immune Epitope Database to Study Autoimmune Epitope Data Related to Alopecia Areata

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The Immune Epitope Database (IEDB) is a repository of published epitope data for infectious diseases, allergy, transplantation and autoimmunity. Herein we provide an introduction to the IEDB search interface, focusing on data related to autoimmune diseases, including alopecia areata (AA). We demonstrate how common questions related can be answered, such as how to search for specific autoantigens, epitope sequences, response types (B- and/or T-cell assays), or host, as well as how to search for epitopes of known major histocompatibility complex restriction and for data related to a specific disease. Our survey of the data found that while as a whole Autoimmunity-specific records represent a significant portion (˜30%); epitopes reported for AA are remarkably few, just 23 epitopes from six antigens. This reveals a significant knowledge gap for AA, and suggests that additional mapping of epitopes and identification of novel AA-associated autoantigens is warranted. Citing recently published examples, we show how bioinformatic, proteomic, and technological advances make it now increasingly feasible to identify epitopes and novel antigens in human disease. The goal herein was to increase awareness of the IEDB as a free resource for the scientific community and to demonstrate its use in finding (existing) and analyzing (prediction) epitope data.

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