Citrullination of C1-inhibitor as a mechanism of impaired complement regulation in rheumatoid arthritis

Myriam Martin, Sara C Nilsson, David Eikrem, Karin Fromell, Carsten Scavenius, Leonie M Vogt, Ewa Bielecka, Jan Potempa, Jan J Enghild, Bo Nilsson, Kristina N Ekdahl, Meliha C Kapetanovic, Anna M Blom

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BACKGROUND: Dysregulated complement activation, increased protein citrullination, and production of autoantibodies against citrullinated proteins are hallmarks of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Citrullination is induced by immune cell-derived peptidyl-Arg deiminases (PADs), which are overactivated in the inflamed synovium. We characterized the effect of PAD2- and PAD4-induced citrullination on the ability of the plasma-derived serpin C1-inhibitor (C1-INH) to inhibit complement and contact system activation.

METHODS: Citrullination of the C1-INH was confirmed by ELISA and Western blotting using a biotinylated phenylglyoxal probe. C1-INH-mediated inhibition of complement activation was analyzed by C1-esterase activity assay. Downstream inhibition of complement was studied by C4b deposition on heat-aggregated IgGs by ELISA, using pooled normal human serum as a complement source. Inhibition of the contact system was investigated by chromogenic activity assays for factor XIIa, plasma kallikrein, and factor XIa. In addition, autoantibody reactivity to native and citrullinated C1-INH was measured by ELISA in 101 RA patient samples.

RESULTS: C1-INH was efficiently citrullinated by PAD2 and PAD4. Citrullinated C1-INH was not able to bind the serine protease C1s and inhibit its activity. Citrullination of the C1-INH abrogated its ability to dissociate the C1-complex and thus inhibit complement activation. Consequently, citrullinated C1-INH had a decreased capacity to inhibit C4b deposition via the classical and lectin pathways. The inhibitory effect of C1-INH on the contact system components factor XIIa, plasma kallikrein, and factor XIa was also strongly reduced by citrullination. In RA patient samples, autoantibody binding to PAD2- and PAD4-citrullinated C1-INH was detected. Significantly more binding was observed in anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA)-positive than in ACPA-negative samples.

CONCLUSION: Citrullination of the C1-INH by recombinant human PAD2 and PAD4 enzymes impaired its ability to inhibit the complement and contact systems in vitro. Citrullination seems to render C1-INH more immunogenic, and citrullinated C1-INH might thus be an additional target of the autoantibody response observed in RA patients.

TidsskriftFrontiers in Immunology
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2023


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