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Evaluation of serum Epstein-Barr virus envelope glycoproteins antibodies and their association with systemic autoimmune diseases.

Systemic autoimmune diseases (SADs) are a growing spectrum of autoimmune disorders that commonly affect multiple organs. The role of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection or reactivation as a trigger for the initiation and progression of SADs has been established, while the relationship between EBV envelope glycoproteins and SADs remains unclear. Here, we assessed the levels of IgG, IgA, and IgM against EBV glycoproteins (including gp350, gp42, gHgL, and gB) in serum samples obtained from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and found that RA and SLE patients exhibited a statistically significant increase in the levels of 8 and 11 glycoprotein antibodies, respectively, compared to healthy controls (p < 0.05). The LASSO model identified four factors as significant diagnostic markers for RA: gp350 IgG, gp350 IgA, gHgL IgM, and gp42 IgA; whereas for SLE it included gp350 IgG, gp350 IgA, gHgL IgA, and gp42 IgM. Combining these selected biomarkers yielded an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.749 for RA and 0.843 for SLE. We subsequently quantified the levels of autoantibodies associated with SADs in mouse sera following immunization with gp350. Remarkably, none of the tested autoantibody levels exhibited statistically significant alterations. Elevation of glycoprotein antibody concentration suggests that Epstein-Barr virus reactivation and replication occurred in SADs patients, potentially serving as a promising biomarker for diagnosing SADs. Moreover, the absence of cross-reactivity between gp350 antibodies and SADs-associated autoantigens indicates the safety profile of a vaccine based on gp350 antigen.

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