Kristian Stengaard-Pedersen

Human endogenous retroviral genetic element with immune suppressive activity in both human autoimmune diseases and experimental arthritis

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OBJECTIVES: Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) are remnants of past retroviral infections in the human genome and have been implicated in different aspects of human biology. The aim of this study was to identify HERVs which are associated with the pathogenesis of Rheumatoid diseases represented by Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).

METHODS: The study subjects included 45 female patients with SLE and 50 geographically and age matched healthy. Real-time RT-PCR analysis was used to examine the transcription levels of 11 genes with coding capacity for complete envelope protein in these individuals. One HERV locus was identified as a potential modulator of autoimmunity in this way. The env gene encoded by this HERV locus was cloned and examined for the ability to express a functional protein with immune suppressive potential.

RESULTS: We show that the expression of the Env59 gene is negatively correlated with pathogenetic factors of human autoimmune rheumatic diseases such as IL-6 and TLR-7. This gene is capable of encoding a fully functional envelope glycoprotein and contains a domain which both ex vivo in patients with systemic lupus and rheumatoid arthritis as well as in animal models show strong anti-inflammatory activity including the ability to lower IL-6 levels.

CONCLUSION: Env59 gene has been adapted by the immune system as a control mechanism in autoimmunity and that peptides derived from the immune suppressive domain contained in the Env59 protein are useful as potentially new biological treatments. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalArthritis & Rheumatology
Volume69
Issue2
Pages (from-to)398–409
ISSN2326-5205
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016

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