DOI: 10.1093/ajcp/aqad150.254 ISSN: 0002-9173

An unbiased approach of individual tissue-specific autoantibody identification using Immunoprecipitation coupled to Mass-Spectrometry (IP-MS)

Friederike Antonia Arlt, Elisa Sánchez-Sendín, Marieluise Kirchner, Max-Pelgrom De Haas, Philipp Mertins, Harald Pruess
  • General Medicine


Background and aim

Autoreactive antibodies have gained increasing recognition in autoimmune diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) serving as disease drivers and / or biomarkers. Identification of novel autoantibodies therefore is crucial to optimize diagnostic work and therapy of these diseases as well as understanding their pathogenesis. Hence, we aimed to develop an unbiased strategy to identify patients’ individual main autoantibodies directed against brain epitopes.


We used murine tissue-based assays to screen patients’ sera and cerebrospinal fluids (CSFs) for autoreactive IgGs with known and unknown antibody targets. IgGs from autoreactive patients’ samples were coupled to magnetic beads and used as a bait to pull down potential targets from homogenized brain tissue of wildtype mice. After precipitation and several washes to reduce unspecific binding, beads were subjected to on-bead tryptic digestion followed by mass spectrometry based proteomic analyses using liquid chromatography tandem mass-spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). For antibody targets identification the fold change enrichment compared to a negative control or to all other pulldown samples, as well as the protein abundance was used. Antibody target validation was done via recombinant expression of the target protein in HEK-293 cells and neutralization with the respective antigen in tissue-based immunofluorescence assays.


As proof of principle, we were able to identify Grin1 Caspr2, Trim46 and Nf-h [MOU1] as main targets of patients’ sera or CSF with autoimmune encephalopathy. All four antigens showed highest enrichment and/or highest protein abundance in the respective samples and have been confirmed in cell-based assays. In addition, we identified one novel anti-neuronal antibody target in serum and CSF of a patient showing a speckled staining of the granular cerebellar layer. Preabsorbance of the serum and CSF with the recombinant protein fully neutralized the signal of the tissue-based immunofluorescence.


Our IP-MS approach is suitable to identify the main autoantibody targets in patients’ serum and CSF within murine CNS tissue thereby providing an unbiased and scalable technique allowing for tissue-specific autoantibody determination.

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