Geographical differences in autoantibodies and anti-infectious agents antibodies among healthy adults

Yinon Shapira, Bat Sheva Porat Katz, Boris Gilburd, Ori Barzilai, Maya Ram, Miri Blank, Staffan Lindeberg, Johan Frostegård, Juan Manuel Anaya, Nicola Bizzaro, Luis J. Jara, Jan Damoiseaux, Yehuda Shoenfeld*, Nancy Agmon Levin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Much is known about the geoepidemiology of defined autoimmune diseases (AD); however, there is currently limited data regarding the prevalence of autoantibodies among healthy populations of different geographical areas. The aim of this study was to evaluate a large profile of autoantibodies in healthy adults from distinct global regions as well as the prevalence of anti-infectious agents antibodies in those regions. Sera samples from 557 healthy donors were obtained at six centers located in different countries (i.e., Italy, Netherlands, Israel, Mexico, Columbia, Papua New Guinea (Kitavans)). Sera were tested for the presence of antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and autoantibodies associated with thrombophilia, vasculitis, and gastrointestinal (GI) disease. Sera samples were also screened for antibodies against infectious agents (i.e., EBV, CMV, HBV, Helicobacter pylori, Treponema pallidum, and Toxoplasma gondii). Tests were performed using the BioPlex 2200 or ELISA kits (Bio-Rad Laboratories, USA). We found a significant gradient of ANA positivity among the groups: 45% of Columbians, 38% of Kitavans, 26% of Mexicans, 12% of Italians, 12% of Dutch, and 11% of Israelis were ANA positive. Geographical differences were also observed regarding the prevalence of specific autoantibodies, namely ANA: anti-dsDNA, chromatin, SmRNP, Ro/SSA, La/SSB, Scl70; GI associated: antigliadin; and thrombophilia-associated: anti-â2GP1 and prothrombin. Additionally, significant differences were observed regarding serological markers of all infectious agents screened. The observed variance between healthy ethno-geographical distinct populations in prevalence of autoantibodies may represent different genetic or environmental (e.g., prior exposure to infection) influences. Thus may illuminate possible causes of geoepidemiological differences in AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-163
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Antigliadin
  • Antinuclear antibodies
  • Antiphospholipid antibodies
  • Autoimmunity
  • Ethnicity
  • Geoepidemiology
  • Infectious agents


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