Periodontitis in RA-the citrullinated enolase connection.
Lundberg K., Wegner N., Yucel-Lindberg T., Venables PJ.
Autoimmunity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is characterized by an antibody response to citrullinated proteins. Two of the risk factors for RA-HLA-DRB1 shared epitope alleles and smoking-are also associated with periodontitis, which is largely, but not exclusively, caused by Porphyromonas gingivalis infection. Furthermore, RA and periodontitis have a similar pathophysiology, characterized by destructive inflammation. The citrullination of proteins by P. gingivalis and the subsequent generation of autoantigens that drive autoimmunity in RA represents a possible causative link between these two diseases. Antibodies directed towards the immunodominant epitope of human citrullinated α-enolase cross-react with a conserved sequence on citrullinated P. gingivalis enolase. On the basis of this cross-reactivity, in this Perspectives article we explore the hypothesis of molecular mimicry in the etiology of RA, with citrullinated enolase as the specific antigen involved.