Autoimmune hepatitis-specific antibodies against soluble liver antigen and liver cytosol type 1 in patients with chronic viral hepatitis
Background. Non-organ specific autoantibodies are highly prevalent in patients with chronic hepatitis C (HCV). Among them, anti-liver kidney microsomal type 1 (LKM1) antibody - the serological marker of type 2 autoimmune hepatitis (AIH-2)- is detected in up to 11% of the HCV-infected subjects. On the other hand, anti-liver cytosol type 1 antibodies (anti-LC1) - either in association with anti-LKM1, or in isolation- and anti-soluble liver antigen antibodies (anti-SLA) have been considered as useful and specific diagnostic markers for AIH. However, their specificity for AIH has been questioned by some recent studies, which have shown the detection of anti-LC1 and anti-SLA by immunoprecipitation assays in HCV patients irrespective of their anti-LKM1 status. The aim of the present study was to test the anti-LC1 and anti-SLA presence by specific enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), in a large group of Greek HCV-infected patients with or without anti-LKM1 reactivity as firstly, immunoprecipitation assays are limited to few specialized laboratories worldwide and cannot be used routinely and secondly, to assess whether application of such tests has any relevance in the context of patients with viral hepatitis since antibody detection based on such ELISAs has not been described in detail in large groups of HCV patients. Methods. One hundred and thirty eight consecutive HCV patients (120 anti-LKM1 negative and 18 anti-LKM1 positive) were investigated for the presence of anti-LC1 and anti-SLA by commercial ELISAs. A similar number (120) of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infected patients seronegative for anti-LKM1 was also tested as pathological controls. Results. Six out of 18 (33%) anti-LKM pos/HCV pos patients tested positive for anti-LC1 compared to 1/120 (0.83%) anti-LKM neg/HCV pos patients and 0/120 (0%) of the anti-LKM1 neg/HBV pos patients (p < 0.001 for both comparisons). Anti-SLA antibodies were not present in any of the HCV (with or without anti-LKM1) or HBV-infected patients. Conclusion. We showed that anti-LC1 and anti-SLA autoantibodies are not detected by conventional assays in a large group of anti-LKM1 negative patients with chronic hepatitis B and C infections. Based on these results we cannot find any justification for the application of anti-LC1 and anti-SLA tests in the routine laboratory testing of viral hepatitis-related autoantibody serology with the only potential exception being the anti-LC1 screening in anti-LKM1 pos/HCV pos patients. © 2007 Rigopoulou et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
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