Fetomaternal alloimmunity as a cause of liver disease
Fetomaternal alloimmune disease has traditionally been associated with haematological disease such as fetomaternal alloimmune thrombocytopaenia and Rh haemolytic anaemia, but is now known to also be organ specific. Alloimmune membranous glomerulonephritis (AMG) is one of the most well understood organ-specific alloimmune diseases. Neonatal haemochromatosis (NH) is a rare condition characterised by early liver failure in infants, with evidence suggesting that it is also alloimmune. Both AMG and NH appear to involve the passive transfer of alloantibodies to the fetus, which bind a specific alloantigen, fix complement and activate the terminal complement cascade. Although differences between AMG and NH are known, and evidence of the presence of antigen-specific alloantibodies in NH is still missing, we will use AMG as an example of fetomaternal organ specific alloimmune disease, and critically compare this to other emerging evidence that indicates that NH is also alloimmune. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.
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