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Clin Exp Immunol. 1992 Feb;87(2):237-45.

Subclass composition and J-chain expression of the 'compensatory' gastrointestinal IgG cell population in selective IgA deficiency.

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Laboratory for Immunohistochemistry and Immunopathology (LIIPAT), University of Oslo, National Hospital, Rikshospitalet, Norway.


The subclass distribution of IgG-producing immunocytes was examined by two-colour immunohistochemistry in gastrointestinal mucosa of 14 patients with selective serum IgA deficiency providing the following biopsy material: gastric (n = 1); jejunal (n = 12); colonic (n = 1); and rectal (n = 2). All except two patients suffered from various infections, and coeliac disease was observed in six of them. Control reference data were based on biopsies from immunologically intact subjects, including histologically normal jejunal (n = 10) and large bowel (n = 10) mucosa and stomach mucosa with slight chronic gastritis (n = 8). The total mucosal population of immunoglobulin-producing cells per 500 microns gut length unit was only slightly decreased in IgA deficiency because of an increased number of IgG (30%) and especially IgM (71%) immunocytes. The IgG1 immunocyte proportion in the proximal gut (median 87%) was higher than that in the comparable controls (gastric 69%, jejunal 66%). A similar trend was seen in the distal gut (69%) compared with controls from the large bowel mucosa (55%). Conversely, IgG2 and IgG3 cell proportions were significantly decreased compared with the respective controls from the proximal gut. The same was true for IgG4, which also was significantly reduced in jejunal mucosa. Paired staining for cytoplasmic J chain and immunoglobulin isotype showed 71% positivity for jejunal IgG-producing cells in IgA deficiency, which was somewhat reduced compared with comparable controls (89%). J chain appeared to be preferentially expressed by IgG1 cells (75%), but was also found in IgG2 (70%), IgG3 (32%) and IgG4 cells (33%). IgM-producing cells showed a J-chain positivity (99%) in IgA deficiency similar to normal (100%). Our results suggested that the block in mucosal B cell differentiation to IgA expression in the proximal gut is mainly located immediately upstream to the CH alpha 1 gene, giving excessive terminal maturation of J-chain-positive IgG1 immunocytes.

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