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PLoS One. 2018 Dec 6;13(12):e0208412. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0208412. eCollection 2018.

Alpha7 acetylcholine receptor autoantibodies are rare in sera of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

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Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, School for Mental Health and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands.
Department of Neuroscience, Institute for Experimental Medical Research (DETAE), Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey.
University Psychiatric Centre Catholic University Leuven, Campus Kortenberg, Kortenberg, Belgium, Department of Neurosciences KU Leuven, Belgium.
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, School of Medicine, Universidad Complutense, IiSGM, CIBERSAM, Madrid, Spain.
Department of Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America.


The α7 acetylcholine receptor (AChR) has been linked with the onset of psychotic symptoms and we hypothesized therefore that it might also be an autoimmune target. Here, we describe a new radioimmunoassay (RIA) using iodine 125-labelled α-bungarotoxin and membrane extract from transfected HEK293 cells expressing human α7 AChR. This RIA was used to analyze sera pertaining to a cohort of 711 subjects, comprising 368 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, 140 with bipolar disorder, 58 individuals diagnosed of other mental disorders, and 118 healthy comparison subjects. We identified one patient whose serum tested positive although with very low levels (0.2 nM) for α7 AChR-specific antibodies by RIA. Three out of 711 sera contained antibodies against iodine 125-labelled α-bungarotoxin, because they precipitated with it in the absence of α7 AChR. This first evidence suggests that autoantibodies against α7 AChR are absent or very rare in these clinical groups.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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