Autoantibodies and Autoantigens in Autoimmune Hepatitis

Christian P. Strassburg, MD, Michael P. Manns, MD


Semin Liver Dis. 2002;22(4) 

In This Article

Antinuclear Antibodies

ANA show specificity for both functional and structural proteins in the cell nucleus. They can be directed against nuclear membranes or even DNA.[32,33,34,35,36] Unfortunately, for diagnostic reasons, the target antigens are heterogeneous and incompletely defined, and heterogeneous even within a single disease such as AIH. For the diagnostic work-up of AIH, the molecular characterization of target antigen specificity does not supply important additional information to increase diagnostic precision. Screening determinations of ANA are routinely performed by indirect immunofluorescence on cryostat sections of rat liver and on Hep.2 cell slides. Most commonly, a homogeneous or speckled immunofluorescence pattern is demonstrable. ANA have been found to be reactive with an array of antigens that include centromeres, ribonucleoproteins, and cyclin A. They represent the most common autoantibody in AIH and occur in high titers, usually exceeding 1:160. However, the titer does not correlate with disease course, prognosis, progression, requirement of transplantation, or disease activity.


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