Background: IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD) is a fibroinflammatory condition involving loss of B-cell tolerance and production of autoantibodies. However, the relevant targets and role of these aberrant humoral immune responses are not defined. Objective: Our aim was to identify novel autoantibodies and autoantigen targets that promote pathogenic responses in IgG4-RD. Methods: We sequenced plasmablast antibody repertoires in patients with IgG4-RD. Representative mAbs were expressed and their specificities characterized by using cytokine microarrays. The role of anti–IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA) autoantibodies was investigated by using in vitro assays. Results: We identified strong reactivity against human IL-1RA by using a clonally expanded plasmablast-derived mAb from a patient with IgG4-RD. Plasma from patients with IgG4-RD exhibited elevated levels of reactivity against IL-1RA compared with plasma from the controls and neutralized IL-1RA activity, resulting in inflammatory and fibrotic mediator production in vitro. IL-1RA was detected in lesional tissues from patients with IgG4-RD. Patients with anti–IL-1RA autoantibodies of the IgG4 subclass had greater numbers of organs affected than did those without anti–IL-1RA autoantibodies. Peptide analyses identified IL-1RA epitopes targeted by anti–IL-1RA antibodies at sites near the IL-1RA/IL-1R interface. Serum from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) also had elevated levels of anti–IL-1RA autoantibodies compared with those of the controls. Conclusion: A subset of patients with IgG4-RD have anti–IL-1RA autoantibodies, which promote proinflammatory and profibrotic meditator production via IL-1RA neutralization. These findings support a novel immunologic mechanism underlying the pathogenesis of IgG4-RD. Anti–IL-1RA autoantibodies are also present in a subset of patients with SLE and RA, suggesting a potential common pathway in multiple autoimmune diseases.
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