Background: Changes in immunoglobulin G (IgG) constant domain (Fc) glycosylation are associated with changes in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) disease activity in response to pregnancy. Here, we sought to determine whether the same holds true for variable domain (Fab) glycosylation. Methods: IgGs were captured from RA and control sera obtained before (RA only), during and after pregnancy, followed by Fc and Fab separation, glycan release, and mass spectrometric detection. In parallel, glycans from intact IgG were analysed. The data was used to calculate glycosylation traits, and to estimate the level of Fab glycosylation. Results: The overall level of Fab glycosylation was increased in RA patients compared to controls, while no differences in Fab glycosylation patterns were found. For the Fc and intact IgG (Total) previously observed differences in galactosylation and bisection were confirmed. Furthermore, increased galactosylation of Fc and Total were associated with lower disease activity and autoantibody positivity. In addition, the change in Fc galactosylation associated with the change in disease activity during pregnancy and after delivery, while this was not the case for Fab. Conclusions: In contrast to changes in Fc glycosylation, changes in Fab glycosylation are not associated with improvement of RA during pregnancy and arthritis flare after delivery.

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Arthritis Research and Therapy
Department of Pediatrics

Bondt, A., Wuhrer, M., Kuijper, M., Hazes, M., & Dolhain, R. (2016). Fab glycosylation of immunoglobulin G does not associate with improvement of rheumatoid arthritis during pregnancy. Arthritis Research and Therapy, 18(1). doi:10.1186/s13075-016-1172-1