Autoantibodies, which are antibodies that target self-epitopes, have considerable diagnostic, prognostic and predictive value in specific autoimmune diseases. Various infectious agents have been linked via numerous mechanisms to the formation of different autoantibodies. Therefore, estimating the prevalence of autoantibodies and anti-infectious antibodies in different populations is of high importance. Different genetic and environmental pressures, such as these found in Ghana’s different geographical provinces, may affect the prevalence of autoantibodies. In this study, we assessed the seroprevalence of a diverse panel of autoantibodies and anti-infectious antibodies among the healthy Ghanaian population and investigated possible environmental and genetic predispositions for autoantibodies and autoimmunity. The sera of 406 healthy individuals were obtained from Greater Accra, Upper West, Eastern and Volta regions. Multiplexed assay and chemiluminescent immunoassay techniques were utilized to assess the presence of a panel of autoantibodies and anti-infectious antibodies. We found a high prevalence of anti-HSV-1 IgG (91–100%), anti-EBNA IgG (81–93%) and anti-EBV-VCA IgG (97–100%) antibodies. The prevalence of ANA (at least one of: anti-dsDNA; anti-chromatin; anti-ribosomal-P; anti-Ro/SSA; anti-La/SSB; anti-centromere B; anti-Sm; anti-Sm/RNP; anti-Scl-70; anti-Jo1; anti-DFS70) was estimated at 14%. An inverse association between anti-HSV-2 antibodies and ANA (p = 0.044; adjusted OR = 0.398; CI [0.162–0.975]) was found, after adjusting for differences in gender, age, and familial history of autoimmune diseases. A trend towards reduced seroprevalence of anti-dsDNA antibodies among subjects who were positive for anti-HSV-2 antibodies was also noted (p = 0.1). In conclusion, the inverse association between anti-HSV-2 antibodies and ANA positivity suggests a possible protective role of HSV-2 infection against autoimmunity.
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