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J Gastroenterol. 2000;35(3):226-34.

Autoimmune reactivity of sera to hepatocyte plasma membrane in type 1 autoimmune hepatitis.

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  • 1Second Department of Internal Medicine, Nagasaki University School of Medicine, Japan.


Type 1 autoimmune hepatitis (AIH-1) is an organ-specific autoimmune liver disease for which no tissue-specific autoantigen has yet been identified. We examined the reactivity by sensitive immunoblotting with enhanced chemiluminescence (IB-ECL) of 43 sera from patients with AIH-1 and 182 sera from patients with other diseases on hepatocyte plasma membrane derived from rat or human liver (RHPM, HHPM) and separated by aqueous two-phase partition. The sera studied were from patients with AIH-1, primary biliary cirrhosis, chronic viral hepatitis, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); and from normal subjects. Specificity of reactivity by IB-ECL was sought: (i) by testing sera on human or rat liver membrane; (ii) by testing sera on liver or kidney membrane; (iii) by serial titration of reactive sera; and (iv) by testing reactive sera from AIH-1 before and after successful treatment with prednisolone. The results were that in AIH-1 there were multiple reactive components which were not species-specific, since they were detected with both RHPM and HHPM, but were mostly tissue-specific for liver. There was no significant correlation between antinuclear antibodies (ANA) titer and the frequencies of sera reactivities against RHPM. Most of these reactive components were demonstrable at a lesser frequency in other liver diseases and in SLE. There was a striking decrease in reactivity by IB-ECL of AIH-1 sera with liver membrane after clinical remission, further suggesting that differences between AIH-1 and other inflammatory liver diseases and SLE are predominantly quantitative rather than qualitative. However, our study did point to candidate liver membrane antigens with molecular sizes of 136, 116, 81, and 49 kDa, additional to components previously described by others. The molecular identification of these prominent reactants with AIH-1 sera could prove informative for ascertaining pathogenesis.

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