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Blood. 2009 Apr 23;113(17):4086-93. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-09-181073. Epub 2008 Nov 20.

Role of molecular mimicry of hepatitis C virus protein with platelet GPIIIa in hepatitis C-related immunologic thrombocytopenia.

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Department of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, NY 10016, USA.


Patients with HIV-1 immune-related thrombocytopenia (HIV-1-ITP) have a unique Ab against platelet GPIIIa49-66 capable of inducing oxidative platelet fragmentation in the absence of complement. HIV-1-seropositive drug abusers are more prone to develop immune thrombocytopenia than non-drug abusers and have a higher coinfection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) than non-drug abusers (90% vs 30%). Molecular mimicry was sought by screening a phage peptide library with anti-GPIIIa49-66 antibody as bait for peptides sharing homology sequences with HCV. Several phage peptide clones had 70% homology with HCV protein. Sera from dually infected thrombocytopenic patients with HCV and HIV-ITP reacted strongly with 4 nonconserved peptides from HCV core envelope 1. Reactivity correlated inversely with platelet count (r(2) = 0.7, P < .01). Ab raised against peptide PHC09 in GPIIIa(-/-) mice induced thrombocytopenia in wild-type mice. Affinity-purified IgG against PHC09 induced oxidative platelet fragmentation in vitro. Drug abusers dually infected with HCV and HIV-1 had a greater incidence and severity of thrombocytopenia as well as titer of anti-GPIIIa49-66/PHC09 Ab. NZB/W F1 mice injected with recombinant core envelope 1 developed Ab versus PHC09 and significantly decreased their platelet count (P < .001). Thus, HCV core envelope 1 can induce thrombocytopenia by molecular mimicry with GPIIIa49-66.

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