Charaterization of autoantibodies

Antibodies are part of the immune system recognizing internal and external proteins to help the immune system to eliminate these proteins. These antibodies once induced by variant stimuli, persist lifelong. Antibody reactions accompany several diseases and used most commonly to determine the autoimmune response against infectious agents like bacteria and viruses. The memory function once induced, outlasts the acute phase of the disease, still enabling to determine the acute disease status.
Furthermore, the immune system is involved in every clearance process in the body, especially when it comes to pathological conditions. Antibodies reflect the status of a pathological condition, e.g. the antibodies against prostate specific antigen, which help to monitor prostate cancer. Several other antibodies have a role as biomarkers for detection and follow-up of organic disease conditions. The identification of disease related antibodies regarding brain diseases has just started, e.g. with the introduction of antibodies against aquaporin-4 it is nowadays possible to identify an entity of multiple sclerosis with a clear implication for therapy and prognosis. Recently the importance of antibodies for neurological diseases was further underlined by the identification of antibody inducing different forms of dementia (e.g. NMDA-related dementia). The identification of these antibodies not only helped to identify the cause of this form of dementia, but also give the possibility to cure the disease [2].
Antibodies are highly stable proteins, which are easily accessible e.g. in blood or also saliva and can be easily measured with protein microarrays or peptide microarrays, ELISA, or other methods. For these reasons they could be seen as a good starting point to find candidates for an early diagnosis of different kind of diseases, with a high sensitivity and specificity and perhaps the ability to monitor disease progression.

Figure 1: Scheme of Autoantibody screening with human protein microarrays

Cooperation partners:

Prof. Dr. Dirk Woitalla, St. Josef-Krankenhaus Kupferdreh, Essen, Deutschland und St. Josef Hospital Bochum, Bochum, Deutschland
Dr. Beate Pesch, Institut für Prävention und Arbeitsmedizin der deutschen gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Bochum, Deutschland
Prof. Dr. József Engelhardt, University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
M2-Automation, Berlin, Deutschland
Dr. Harald Prüss, Charité, Berlin, Deutschland
Prof. Dr. Dr. Jan Schwab, Charité, Berlin, Deutschland
Prof. Dr. Peter Nilsson, KTH – Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Schweden
Dr. rer. nat. Manuel Montesinos-Rongen, Zentrum für Pathologie, Universitätsklinikum, Köln, Deutschland

Characterization of neurons and glial cells

The analysis of brain function in normal aging and neurodegenerative, psychiatric and neurological diseases has long been a subject of interest and has historically been investigated through descriptive analysis of macroscopic or microscopic observations. It is now possible to characterize brain cells, such as neurons and glial cells at the molecular level. This ability enables researchers to more closely examine brain cell-specific molecular pathways to elucidate distinct brain functions. Furthermore, the analysis of neuronal maintenance and disease-causing effects is a central component of neurological investigations. The separation of brain-derived cells is a challenging task, especially when neurons are the focus of study. Neurons are highly branched in the central nervous system and interact in a complex neuronal network. Neurons build filamentous axons between the cell body and synaptic endings, and these axons are surrounded by oligodendrocytes, which help to electrically isolate the axons through formation of the myelin sheath. Therefore, the isolation of intact neurons is scarcely feasible with traditional methods, including tissue homogenization techniques. In this context, the LCM technique offers outstanding features in comparison with traditional cell lysis-based methods. Hence, DNA, RNA and proteins that are characteristic of these subpopulations of cells can be analyzed through PCR, western blot or mass spectrometry.

Cooperation partners:

Prof. Dr. Lea T. Grinberg, UCSF, San Francisco, USA and São Paulo, Brazil

Prof. Dr Helmut Heinsen, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany