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Immunobiology. 2011 Apr;216(4):528-34. doi: 10.1016/j.imbio.2010.08.004. Epub 2010 Aug 19.

Complement mediated hepatocytes injury in a model of autoantibody induced hepatitis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


Despite multiple reports on autoantibody-initiated complement activation in autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), how does the humoral immunity contribute to the pathogenesis of AIH remained unclear. In this report, by adoptively transferring a polyclonal rabbit anti-OVA antibody into Hep-OVA Tg mice in which OVA is selectively expressed on the surface of hepatocytes, we found that excessive complement activation initiated by the autoantibody overwhelmed the protection of intrinsic cell surface complement regulators, and induced hepatocytes injury both in vitro and in vivo. The anti-OVA antibody induced hepatic injury in Hep-OVA Tg but not WT C57BL/6 mice as assessed by serum ALT levels and liver histopathology. Immunohistochemical analyses showed that after the antibody administration, there was massive complement activation on anti-OVA IgG coated hepatocytes in Hep-OVA Tg mice, but not in WT mice. Consistent with these results, depleting complement by cobra venom factor (CVF) prior to antibody injections protected Hep-OVA Tg mice from anti-OVA IgG induced hepatic injury. In addition, treating Hep-OVA Tg mice with recombinant mouse decay accelerating factor, a native complement inhibitor, protected them from autoantibody induced hepatitis. These results suggest that complement could play a pivotal role in liver specific autoantibody mediated hepatocyte injury in AIH, and that complement inhibitors could be, in principle, developed as novel therapeutics against AIH.

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