Mothers giving birth to children with manifestations of neonatal lupus (NL) represent a unique population at risk for the development of clinically evident pathologic autoimmunity since many are asymptomatic and only become aware of anti-SSA/Ro positivity (anti-Ro+) based on heart block in their fetus. Accordingly, we hypothesized that the microbiome in saliva is associated with the development of autoreactivity and in some cases the progression in health status from benign to overt clinical disease including Sjögren's syndrome (SS) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The study comprised a clinical spectrum of anti-Ro+ mothers, all of whom gave birth to a child with NL: 9 were asymptomatic or had an undifferentiated autoimmune disease (Asym/UAS) and 16 fulfilled criteria for SS and/or SLE. Microbial diversity was reduced across all levels from kingdom to species for the anti-Ro+ mothers vs healthy controls; however, there were no significant differences between Asym/UAS and SS/SLE mothers. Relative abundance of Proteobacteria and more specifically class Betaproteobacteria decreased with clinical severity (healthy controls < Asym/UAS < SS/SLE). These ordered differences were maintained through the taxonomic hierarchy to three genera (Lautropia, Comamonas, and Neisseria) and species within these genera (L. mirabilis, N. flavescens and N. oralis). Biometric analysis comparing von Willebrand Factor domains present in human Ro60 with L. mirabilis proteins support the hypothesis of molecular mimicry. These data position the microbiome in the development of anti-Ro reactivity and subsequent clinical spectrum of disease.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy