Promising Genetic Research May Detect Lupus Earlier
A new study looks at the potential relationship between long scattered nuclear elements (LINE-1) and lupus. LINE-1 is a type of chromosomal segment that makes up about 17% of the human genetic material, and a small portion of these genetic sequences can disrupt other genes. Scientists suspect the body may protect against this biological threat by creating autoantibodies that counteract LINE-1 proteins. However, these built-in defense mechanisms may be involved in the development or disease progression of cancer and immune-mediated diseases, like lupus.
To explore the role LINE-1 may have in lupus development or progression, researchers measured the blood levels of IgG autoantibodies in several different study groups, since IgG autoantibodies are known to be reactive against LINE-1 protein. They measured both autoantibody levels and strength in people with lupus – some were in remission while others were experiencing flares. They also performed the same tests with a group of people with systemic sclerosis (a “disease control/comparison” group) and age-matched healthy subjects.
They detected IgG autoantibodies in all of the participants’ blood samples regardless of disease state. However, these autoantibody levels were higher in patients with lupus compared to healthy subjects, and even higher in those with systemic sclerosis. Interestingly, the reactivity (strength) of these antibodies was higher in people during a flare than in remission.
The finding suggests people with severe and active lupus are characterized by the presence of strong autoantibodies that fight against LINE-1. Testing for these autoantibodies may help with early diagnosis of lupus and perhaps even lupus prevention. Learn more about diagnosing lupus.