Background: Autoantibodies against the chromosome associated protein DFS70/LEDGF (dense fine speckled 70/ lens epithelial growth factor; anti-DSF70) are increasingly being regarded as biomarkers for the diagnostic exclusion of systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (SARD). In routine ANA screening by indirect immunofluores-cence (IIFT) tests the presence of anti-DFS70 may first be presumed because of their characteristic immunofluo-rescence pattern (AC-2 pattern) and then be confirmed by antigen specific assays, a sequential approach, which may underestimate the prevalence of anti-DFS70 because of the inherent shortcomings of the ANA-IIFT. We therefore, for the first time, determined the prevalence of anti-DFS70 in patient sera by means of a sensitive and specific radioimmunoprecipitation assay (RIPA) as compared to a commercial ELISA.
Methods: Blood specimens referred for routine ANA screening (n = 1.100, ANA-Series) or for basic clinical chemistry tests (n = 350, CC-Series) were assayed for the prevalence of anti-DFS70 by RIPA using 35S-methionine labelled full-length DFS70 (FL-DFS70) as well as a C-terminal DFS70 fragment (CT-DFS70) generated by in vitro transcription/translation (ivTT) of the respective cDNAs. ELISA was performed using an anti-DFS70 test-kit (Eu-roimmun) and ANA-IIFT by means of commercial HEp-2 cells (INOVA) and appropriately chessboard titrated conjugates (Dianova). Accessory SARD markers (anti-dsDNA, anti-ENA) were determined in sera positive for anti-DFS70.
Results: The detection of anti-DFS70 by RIPA was considerably more sensitive than by ELISA, resulting in an overall detection rate of 9.0% (ANA-Series) and 8.0% (CC-Series) compared to ELISA revealing 4.6% (ANA-Se-ries) and 2.6% (CC-Series) anti-DFS70 positive sera. Of 99 RIPA reactive sera (ANA-Series) 72% were reactive against anti-FL-DFS70, 93% against CT-DFS70, polyspecific antibodies coexisted in 65%, reacting with both antigen specificities, 28% showed monospecific reaction with CT-DFS70 and 7% monospecific with FL-DFS70, indicating also the possible existence of antibodies specific for N-terminal epitopes in DSF70. Similar frequencies were seen in sera of the CC-series. The RIPA measured antibody concentrations (Rratio) obtained with FL-DSF70 antigen and CT-DSF70 antigen showed a correlation. There was also a correlation between the IIFT-ANA titers and Rratio found by RIPA. The consensus of suspected AC-2 pattern in ANA-IIFT and anti-DFS70 measured by RIPA was about 80%. No significant correlation existed between the antibody concentrations measured by RIPA and ELISA. Additional SARD markers were present in 24% of anti-DFS70 positive sera referred for ANA screening. No additional markers were seen in sera of the CC-Series.
Conclusions: RIPA constitutes a highly-sensitive assay for detection of anti-DFS70 in human sera. ANA-IIFT screening performed under consideration of the AC-2 pattern for verification of antibodies to DFS70 under routine conditions may incorrectly estimate a considerable number of not only low but also high titer anti-DSF70 positive sera. The significance of RIPA reactive antibodies, especially of low titer range, in the context of SARD and healthy individuals now has to be scrutinized in further clinical studies.