OBJECTIVES: To investigate the role of potential immunoselected phages displaying random peptides in addition to possible antigen leads in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by assaying the levels of synovial fluid (SF) and serum antibodies to synthetic peptides. METHODS: Serum and SF antibodies from patients and controls were measured using an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). RESULTS: Sera and SF from RA patients reacted significantly more strongly to a 12 amino acid peptide, EFHELGDIAIAA, that shares a significant homology with collagen type IX, than did SF and sera from control groups (p < 0.0209 and p < 0.0115, respectively). In addition, the humoral responses to a 15 amino acid peptide, GGYGDGGAHGGGYGG, derived from the glycine-rich cell wall protein (GRP) 1.8, and to a 16 amino acid synthetic peptide, LGSISESRRALQDSQR, derived from the Proteus haemolysin protein were significantly stronger in RA patients compared with healthy individuals (p < 0.0001 and p < 0.0011, respectively). CONCLUSION: Our data indicate that peptide phage libraries can be used as tools for the identification of the (auto)antigen leads that may be responsible for the initiation, perpetuation, or both, of the immune response in patients with RA.
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