Article open access publication

Prevalence and correlation of cytokine-specific autoantibodies with epidemiological factors and C-reactive protein in 8,972 healthy individuals: Results from the Danish Blood Donor Study

PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science (PLoS), ISSN 1932-6203

Volume 12, 6, 2017

DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0179981, Dimensions: pub.1090312185, PMC: PMC5493339, PMID: 28665954,



  1. (1) Department of Clinical Immunology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. (2) Næstved Sygehus, grid.416369.f, Zealand Region
  3. (3) State Serum Institute, grid.6203.7
  4. (4) Aarhus University Hospital, grid.154185.c, Central Denmark Region






Natural cytokine-specific autoantibodies (c-aAb) have been measured in healthy and diseased individuals, and have been considered as both endogenous immune-regulators and pathogenic factors. Overall, the etiology and potential pathology of c-aAb are still undefined. To further characterize the sero-prevalence, predictors and consequences of high c-aAb levels, we performed the largest population-based study of c-aAb to date, using participants and epidemiological data from the Danish Blood Donor Study. Using a validated bead-based multiplex assay we assessed plasma levels of IL-1α, IL-6, IL-10, IFNα and GM-CSF-specific c-aAb in 8,972 healthy blood donors. Trace levels of at least one of the investigated c-aAb could be measured in 86% of the participants. The presence of high levels of potentially inhibitory c-aAb was generally associated with increasing age and male or female sex, depending on the c-aAb in question. A negative correlation between high levels of IL-6-specific c-aAb and plasma levels of C-reactive protein was observed, indicating cytokine-neutralizing levels of c-aAb in healthy blood donors. There was no substantial correlation between high levels of the five individual c-aAb investigated in this study. These data suggest that autoimmunity against endogenous cytokines is a relatively common phenomenon in healthy individuals, and that predictive factors for high, potentially neutralizing c-aAb levels vary depending on the cytokine in question, and may differ from predictors of general c-aAb presence.


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