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J Hepatol. 1997 Jun;26(6):1255-65.

Diversity of antinuclear antibody responses in hepatocellular carcinoma.

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W.M. Keck Autoimmune Disease Center, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.



The development of antinuclear antibodies (ANA) in malignancies has been described but its mechanism is still not understood. The aim of this study was to examine ANA specificities in hepatocellular carcinoma to further understand autoimmunity in cancer.


Two hundred and four hepatocellular carcinoma patients were compared with 68 chronic hepatitis C, with 126 chronic hepatitis B and with 30 alcoholic liver cirrhosis patients, as well as with 87 healthy donors. Indirect immunofluorescence, immunoblotting, and immunoprecipitation were used to study ANA reactivities.


Hepatocellular carcinoma had a significantly higher frequency of ANA using HEp-2 cells as substrate (31%) than chronic hepatitis C (10%), chronic hepatitis B (9.5%), alcoholic liver cirrhosis (10%) or healthy donors (4.5%). A great diversity of ANA specificities was found in hepatocellular carcinoma. Three hepatoma sera had antibodies that co-localized with non-snRNP splicing factor SC35, suggesting that the antigenic targets might be involved in mRNA splicing. We identified antibodies to two known nuclear autoantigens: fibrillarin and p330d/CENP-F. These autoantigens are involved in the 5' processing of precursor ribosomal RNA transcripts and in mitotic functions, respectively.


Diversity was found in the autoantibody specificity, in contrast to the specific subsets of autoantibodies seen in several systemic rheumatic autoimmune diseases. Our data suggest that immune response in hepatocellular carcinoma targets important proteins involved in cellular biosynthetic or proliferative functions.

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