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Autoantibodies to a NR2A peptide of the glutamate/NMDA receptor in sera of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus
  1. E S Husebye1,*,
  2. Z M Sthoeger3,
  3. M Dayan1,
  4. H Zinger1,
  5. D Elbirt3,
  6. M Levite2,
  7. E Mozes1
  1. 1Department of Immunology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
  2. 2Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science
  3. 3Department of Medicine “B”, Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot, Israel
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor Edna Mozes
    Department of Immunology, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel;


Objective: To determine the prevalence of autoantibodies directed against an epitope of the glutamate/N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor subunit NR2A (which is highly expressed in human brain) in the sera of lupus patients, and to investigate the possible correlation of these antibodies with clinical and serological manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Methods: Sera were obtained from 109 consecutive SLE patients. Controls were 65 patients with myasthenia gravis, 19 with autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type I (APS I), and 65 healthy donors. A 15 amino acid long peptide based on a sequence within the NR2A subunit of the NMDA/glutamate receptor was synthesised. Antibodies to this peptide were determined by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay. Antibodies against double stranded DNA (dsDNA) were measured by Chrithidia luciliae assay. Disease activity was determined using the SLE disease activity index (SLEDAI).

Results: Sera of 34/109 SLE patients (31%) reacted specifically with the NR2A peptide compared with only 4/65 myasthenia gravis patients (6.1%, p<0.001), 1/19 APS I patients (5.3%, p<0.02), and 3/65 healthy controls (4.6%, p<0.001). No correlation was found between the presence of NR2A and dsDNA or anti-cardiolipin specific autoantibodies. In addition, no significant correlation was observed between the presence of NR2A specific antibodies and the SLEDAI score or any lupus related clinical manifestations.

Conclusions: A significant number of SLE patients (31%) have NR2A specific antibodies that do not correlate with anti-dsDNA antibodies. Additional studies of lupus patients with neurological disorders should elucidate the role of NR2A specific antibodies in lupus related CNS manifestations.

  • AMPA, 2-amino-3-(3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazol-4-yl)
  • ANA, anti nuclear antibodies
  • APS I, autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type I
  • dsDNA, double stranded deoxyribonucleic acid
  • MG, myasthenia gravis
  • NMDA, N-methyl-D-aspartic acid
  • SLE, systemic lupus erythematosus
  • SLEDAI, SLE disease activity index
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • DNA specific antibodies
  • NMDA glutamate receptor

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