Serum autoantibodies to α-fodrin are present in glaucoma patients from Germany and the United States

Franz H. Grus, Stephanie C. Joachim, Kai Bruns, Karl J. Lackner, Norbert Pfeiffer, Martin B. Wax

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Glaucoma is characterized by a progressive loss of retinal ganglion cells that results in a characteristic optic neuropathy associated with visual field loss. In previous studies, changes in the antibody profiles have been shown in the sera of patients with glaucoma, and these findings suggest a role for autoimmune involvement in the pathogenesis of glaucoma in some patients. The purpose of this study was to compare the antibody profiles against optic nerve antigens in patients with glaucoma in two different study populations from Germany and the United States. METHODS. One hundred twenty patients were included in the study, 60 from Germany and 60 from the United States: a control group (CTRL, n = 20), a group of patients with primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG, n = 20), and one group of patients with normal-pressure glaucoma (NPG, n = 20) from each country. Western blot analyses against bovine optic nerve antigens were used to detect the IgG antibody patterns present in the patients' sera. The complex antibody profiles were analyzed by multivariate statistical techniques. RESULTS. Complex IgG autoantibody repertoires were present in all patients with glaucoma as well as healthy subjects from both the German and the United States study population. A large similarity between all antibody profiles in both study populations was demonstrated in the number and frequency of both up- and downregulation of antibody reactivities in patients with glaucoma of both national cohorts. The multivariate analysis of discriminance found a significant difference between the glaucoma groups and healthy subjects against optic nerve antigens. As in previous studies, the NPG group revealed the highest variance from the control group (P < 0.01). Furthermore, a newly described antibody biomarker in both study populations was identified as α-fodrin. Western blot results revealed that there was an increased frequency and enhanced immunoreactivity to α-fodrin (120 kDa) in the sera of patients with NPG. The presence of α-fodrin autoantibodies were confirmed by ELISA, in which a highly elevated anti-α-fodrin titer in patients with NPG was found to be significantly greater than in the control subjects (P < 0.01) or age-matched patients with POAG (P < 0.04). CONCLUSIONS. Complex IgG antibody patterns against optic nerve antigens can be reproducibly identified in the serum of study populations from the United States and Germany. In both cohorts, patients with glaucoma have characteristic differences in serum autoantibody repertoires from those in control subjects. A newly described autoantibody to α-fodrin found in other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, further implicate a role for autoimmunity and the neurodegenerative processes in glaucoma. The high correspondence of the autoantibody patterns found in the study populations from different continents provides further evidence that serum autoantibody patterns may be useful biomarkers for glaucoma detection or for determining prognosis in future studies by means of pattern-matching algorithms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)968-976
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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