Anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPAs), produced against citrullinated proteins, are diagnostic and prognostic markers of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The underlying mechanism that explains the connection of smoking, citrullination [catalyzed by peptidyl arginine deiminases (PADs)] and ACPAs is still unclarified in RA. Thus, we searched for a non-arthritic model in which an increased cell death allows the formation of autoantibodies. Data supporting that lung cancer might be a good candidate are as follows: (i) smoking plays a role in its pathogenesis, (ii) the disease is frequently accompanied by paraneoplastic syndrome, (iii) smoking increases citrullination in the lung, (iv) various types of malignancies are associated with increased citrullination and (v) lung cancer tissue shows similarities with RA synovium. Serum PAD4, rheumatoid factor (RF) and ACPA levels were measured in 42 lung cancer patients; expression of cytokeratin 7 (CK7), PAD4 and citrullinated proteins was visualized in 113 lung cancer tissues. All parameters were analyzed in correlation with smoking history. None of the patients had polyarthritis or autoimmune disease. Significantly increased RF levels were associated with higher PAD4 levels in smoker lung cancer patients compared with non-smokers. Both PAD4 and citrullination immunostaining strongly correlated with that of CK7 in lung cancer, however, did not differ according to smoking history. Two of 30 smoker lung cancer patients had high anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide levels. In conclusion, PAD4 and citrullination may be helpful in distinguishing lung cancer from healthy tissue. Smoking, abnormal serum PAD4 and RF levels may not be sufficient for the production of ACPAs and development of autoimmunity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy