Published September 1, 1984 - More info
Since elevated levels of circulating complexes have been noted to occur in the sera of patients with post-streptococcal sequelae, the possibility that these complexes contained streptococcal antigens within the complex was investigated. Sera from these patients were precipitated with polyethylene glycol to extract a fraction rich in these complexes, which was then injected into rabbits. The rabbit sera were then reacted with both cellular and extracellular fractions obtained from streptococcal strains associated with either acute post-streptococcal nephritis (APSGN) or acute rheumatic fever (ARF) by using immunoelectrophoresis and ELISA techniques. The data demonstrate that both ARF and APSGN complexes contain streptococcal antigens. However, APSGN complexes react uniquely to certain extracellular antigens present in those strains associated with nephritis, while ARF complexes react specifically to certain streptococcal extracellular antigens excreted by strains associated with rheumatic fever. Neither of the two groups of complexes appear to contain streptococcal antigens related to any cellular antigens derived from the group A streptococcus. Additionally, a rabbit serum immunized with streptococcal extracellular products reacted directly with complexes isolated from nephritis patients. Removal of the gamma globulin by absorption with an anti-human Fc serum resulted in the concomitant loss of reactivity with the anti-streptococcal serum, strongly suggesting an intimate association of the streptococcal antigen with these complexes. The presence of streptococcal antigens within the circulating immune complex of patients with APSGN coupled with their specific presence in those strains associated with post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis argues strongly for a causal role of these antigens in the disease process.