Autoantibodies against CD28 are associated with atopic diseases


Professor Karsten Neuber MD, Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Eppendorf, Martinistr. 52, D-20246 Hamburg, Germany.


The B7-1/B7-2-CD28/CTLA-4 pathway is crucial in regulating T cell activation and tolerance. Autoantibodies to surface molecules on lymphocytes have already been described in various immune conditions, such as autoimmune diseases, infections and blood transfusions. The objective of this study was to test sera from healthy individuals and from patients for association of CD28 autoantibodies with inflammatory and non-inflammatory diseases. First, CD28 was obtained by digestion of CD28-Ig fusion protein with trypsin. The cleavage products were separated by sodium dodecyl sulphate–page gel electrophoresis. Additionally, a CD28/GST fusion protein was expressed in Escherichia coli and was used to establish an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for detection of autoantibodies against CD28. Sera from healthy individuals (n = 72) and patients with different inflammatory and non-inflammatory skin diseases (n = 196) were tested for the presence of autoantibodies against CD28. Using mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR), purified autoantibodies against CD28 were tested for their effects on CTLA-4-Ig-induced T cell anergy. In this study, for the first time, we describe the existence of autoantibodies against CD28 in humans which are associated with atopic diseases, e.g. allergic rhinitis and asthma. These antibodies stimulate T cells and overcome the CTLA-4-Ig-induced anergy of T cells in an MLR. The existence of autoantibodies against CD28, which may have a T cell-stimulating function, has been shown. The data indicate that autoantibodies against CD28 could be a new immunological mechanism in allergic inflammation. Additionally, autoantibodies against CD28 could be an important new marker to discriminate between atopic diseases and other inflammatory skin diseases.