Product(s) used in this publication: Specialty Peptides
Autoantibodies against aquaporin-4 (AQP4), a water channel in CNS astrocytes, are detected in ∼50-80% of patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (NMOsd), characterized by longitudinally extensive transverse myelitis (LETM) and/or optic neuritis. Although these autoantibodies present an invaluable biomarker for NMOsd and for the differential diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS), diagnosis of anti-AQP4-seronegative NMOsd remains challenging. We hypothesized that seronegative NMOsd patients might have autoantibodies against aquaporin-1 (AQP1), another water channel in CNS astrocytes. We initially developed a radioimmunoprecipitation assay to search for anti-AQP1 antibodies in sera from 632 individuals. Anti-AQP1 or anti-AQP4 autoantibodies were detected in 16.7% and 12%, respectively, of 348 patients with suspected NMOsd. Anti-AQP1 specificity was confirmed by competition, protein immunoblotting and ELISA assays, whereas epitope localization was studied by immunoadsorption on intact cells expressing AQP1 and peptide mapping experiments. Most anti-AQP1 autoantibodies were of the complement-activating IgG1 subclass and the majority bound to the extracellular domain of AQP1, suggesting a possible pathogenic role. Five out of 42 MS patients had anti-AQP1 antibodies, but 2 of them also had spinal cord lesions, while the anti-AQP1 antibodies in the other 3 bound to the cytoplasmic domain of AQP1. Anti-AQP1 antibodies were not detected in 100 healthy individuals or 142 patients with non-demyelinating neuroimmune diseases. Analysis of 17 anti-AQP1+/anti-AQP4- patients with suspected NMOsd showed that 5 had NMO and 11 had LETM. 12/17 of these sera bound predominantly to the extracellular AQP1 loop-Α. Overall, we found that anti-AQP1 autoantibodies are present in a subgroup of patients with chronic demyelination in the CNS and similarities with anti-AQP4-seronegative NMOsd, offering a novel potential biomarker for CNS demyelination disorders.