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Research Article

Molecular mimicry in primary biliary cirrhosis. Evidence for biliary epithelial expression of a molecule cross-reactive with pyruvate dehydrogenase complex-E2.

J Van de Water, J Turchany, P S Leung, J Lake, S Munoz, C D Surh, R Coppel, A Ansari, Y Nakanuma and M E Gershwin

Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology, University of California, School of Medicine, Davis 95616.

Published June 1993

Sera from patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) react with enzymes of the 2-oxo dehydrogenase pathways, particularly PDC-E2. These enzymes are present in all nucleated cells, yet autoimmune damage is confined to biliary epithelial cells. Using a panel of eight mouse monoclonal antibodies and a human combinatorial antibody specific for PDC-E2, we examined by indirect immunofluorescence and confocal microscopy sections of liver from patients with PBC, progressive sclerosing cholangitis, and hepatocarcinoma. The monoclonal antibodies gave typical mitochondrial immunofluorescence on biliary epithelium and on hepatocytes from patients with either PBC, progressive sclerosing cholangitis, or hepatocarcinoma. However, one of eight mouse monoclonal antibodies (C355.1) and the human combinatorial antibody reacted with great intensity and specificity with the luminal region of biliary epithelial cells from patients with PBC. Simultaneous examination of these sections with an antiisotype reagent for human IgA revealed high IgA staining in the luminal region of biliary epithelial cells in patients with PBC. IgG and IgA antibodies to PDC-E2 were detected in the bile of patients with PBC but not normal controls. We believe that this data may be interpreted as indicating that a molecule cross-reactive with PDC-E2 is expressed at high levels in the luminal region of biliary epithelial cells in PBC.

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