Functional autoantibodies targeting G protein-coupled receptors in rheumatic diseases
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) comprise the largest and most diverse family of integral membrane proteins that participate in different physiological processes such as the regulation of the nervous and immune systems. Besides the endogenous ligands of GPCRs, functional autoantibodies are also able to bind GPCRs to trigger or block intracellular signalling pathways, resulting in agonistic or antagonistic effects, respectively. In this Review, the effects of functional GPCR-targeting autoantibodies on the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatic diseases, are discussed. Autoantibodies targeting β1 and β2 adrenergic receptors, which are expressed by cardiac and airway smooth muscle cells, respectively, have an important role in the development of asthma and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, high levels of autoantibodies against the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor M3 as well as those targeting endothelin receptor type A and type 1 angiotensin II receptor have several implications in the pathogenesis of rheumatic diseases such as Sjögren syndrome and systemic sclerosis. Expanding the knowledge of the pathophysiological roles of autoantibodies against GPCRs will shed light on the biology of these receptors and open avenues for new therapeutic approaches.