Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is associated with antibodies to a heat shock puff on drosophila chromosomes. This observation was investigated by immunoblotting using extracts of the Schneider insect cell line and HeLa cells, before and after heat shock. An insect protein of 63 kilodaltons (but no equivalent human protein) was recognised by 21 (46%) of 46 serum samples from patients with AS, one of two patients with Reiter's syndrome, four (7%) of 60 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, and two (4%) of 50 control subjects, but not by serum samples from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Previous heat shock did not appear to affect the strength of reaction, but ML-30, a monoclonal antibody to the mycobacterial 65 kilodalton heat shock protein (hsp65), also recognised an insect protein of 63 kilodaltons by immunoblotting. Antibodies to recombinant mycobacterial hsp65 were measured by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in serum samples from patients with AS and RA. IgA binding to hsp65 was increased in 41% of AS and 19% of RA serum samples, but there was no correlation with detection of antibody to the insect 63 kilodalton protein.
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