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J Clin Invest. 1996 Mar 15;97(6):1382-8.

Neutralizing antiidiotypic antibodies to factor VIII inhibitors after desensitization in patients with hemophilia A.

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Center for Molecular and Vascular Biology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium.


Hemophilia A patients producing antibodies towards FVIII are usually treated with infusions of high doses of FVIII in an attempt to "desensitize" them. To examine the mechanisms by which such desensitization operates, sequential plasma samples of two unrelated inhibitor patients were analyzed for anti-FVIII and antiidiotypic antibodies before and during infusions of high doses of FVIII. Anti-FVIII antibodies were separated from antiidiotypic antibodies by immunoaffinity chromatography before analysis. We show in the present study that the concentration of anti-FVIII antibodies did not change during a successful desensitization and that antibodies maintained their capacity to inhibit the procoagulant function of FVIII, even though the number of Bethesda units in plasma was reduced to undetectable levels. Using a competition assay with mAbs, we further show that the specificity of human antibodies did not vary significantly during therapy. Finally, we show that the treatment elicited antiidiotypic antibodies, which neutralized the inhibitory capacity of anti-FVIII antibodies. Inhibitor antibodies can therefore not be accurately evaluated in plasma, as their function appears to be neutralized by antiidiotypic antibodies. These findings could have implications for the design of new therapies for hemophilia A patients with inhibitors.

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