Int J Mol Sci 24 (6) - [2023-03-15; online 2023-03-15]
Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a rare autoimmune systemic disease that leads to decreased survival and quality of life due to fibrosis, inflammation, and vascular damage in the skin and/or vital organs. Early diagnosis is crucial for clinical benefit in SSc patients. Our study aimed to identify autoantibodies in the plasma of SSc patients that are associated with fibrosis in SSc. Initially, we performed a proteome-wide screening on sample pools from SSc patients by untargeted autoantibody screening on a planar antigen array (including 42,000 antigens representing 18,000 unique proteins). The selection was complemented with proteins reported in the literature in the context of SSc. A targeted antigen bead array was then generated with protein fragments representing the selected proteins and used to screen 55 SSc plasma samples and 52 matched controls. We found eleven autoantibodies with a higher prevalence in SSc patients than in controls, eight of which bound to proteins associated with fibrosis. Combining these autoantibodies in a panel could lead to the subgrouping of SSc patients with fibrosis. Anti-Phosphatidylinositol-5-phosphate 4-kinase type 2 beta (PIP4K2B)- and anti-AKT Serine/Threonine Kinase 3 (AKT3)-antibodies should be further explored to confirm their association with skin and lung fibrosis in SSc patients.