Human Parvovirus B19 infection is responsible for a wide range of human diseases ranging from mild erythema infectiosum in immunocompetent children to fetal loss in primary infected pregnant women and aplastic anemia or lethal cytopenias in adult immunocompromised patients. Since persistent viral infection is responsible for an autoimmune response and clinical symptoms can mimic autoimmune inflammatory disorders, Parvovirus B19 is the object of intense efforts to clarify whether it is also able to trigger autoimmune diseases. Indeed the virus has been implicated as the causative or the precipitating agent of several autoimmune disorders including Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus, Antiphospholipid Syndrome, Systemic Sclerosis and Vasculitides. Molecular mimicry between host and viral proteins seems to be the main mechanism involved in the induction of autoimmunity. By means of a random peptide library approach, we have identified a peptide that shares homology with parvovirus VP1 protein and with human cytokeratin. Moreover the VP peptide shares similarity with the transcription factor GATA1 that plays an essential role in megakaryopoiesis and in erythropoiesis. These new data sustain the role played by molecular mimicry in the induction of cross-reactive (auto)antibodies by parvovirus B19 infection.
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