How Does Autoimmunity to La and Ro Initiate and Spread? Academic Article uri icon


  • Autoimmunity to La(SS-B) and Ro(SS-A) is a paradigm for understanding the normal mechanisms of B cell and T cell tolerance and development of autoimmunity to clinically important sequestered autoantigens. Epitope mapping experiments have indicated that the autoantibody response is largely self antigen-driven but have failed to elucidate why these particular autoantigens are selected. Abnormal trafficking of La or Ro peptides in polarised epithelial cells and their presentation to autoreactive T cells, or selective release of ribonucleoproteins by injured epithelial cells, could explain the targeting of salivary and lacrimal epithelium in Sjogren's syndrome. There appears to be little, if any, immune tolerance to La in the T helper and B cell compartments. Both intra-and inter-molecular spreading of the autoimmune response have been observed for La. We present a model of recruited autoimmunity whereby capture and internalisation of La/Ro ribonucleoproteins by B cells and subsequent presentation of La or Ro determinants to autoreactive T cells could lead to inter-molecular spreading of the response.


  • Gordon, Tom
  • Topfer, Fiona
  • Keech, Catherine
  • Reynolds, Pakathip
  • Chen, Weisan
  • Rischmueller, Maureen
  • McCluskey, James

publication date

  • January 1994