Lactoferrin, an immunoregulatory protein in mucosal secretions, is one of the target antigens to perinuclear antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (P-ANCAs). Circulating lactoferrin is cleared in the liver, but little is known about the implication of lactoferrin in hepatic inflammation. To evaluate the implication of immunological response to lactoferrin, we examined antilactoferrin antibodies in autoimmune liver diseases.
Fourteen patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), 14 with autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), five with autoimmune cholangitis (AIC), six with chronic hepatitis C, and five with chronic hepatitis B were studied. We evaluated autoantibodies to lactoferrin in the sera of the patients by the Western Immunoblotting method.
Sera of five of the 14 patients (35.7%) with PBC, four of the 14 patients (28.6%) with AIH, and five of the five patients (100%) with AIC contained autoantibodies to human lactoferrin, but none with hepatitis B or C had them. The higher prevalence of serum antibodies to human lactoferrin was shown to be higher in patients with AIC than with hepatitis B (p< 0.01), hepatitis C (p< 0.01), PBC (p< 0.05), and AIH (p< 0.05).
Lactoferrin located in bile ducts and liver cells is one of the candidates of target antigens in autoimmune liver diseases, especially in AIC.
1 Department of Gastroenterology, Tenri Hospital, Kyoto, Japan
2 Department of Endoscopy and Gastroenterology, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
* Department of Endoscopy and Gastroenterology, Fuculty of Medicine, Kyoto University, Sakyo, Kyoto, 606-8507 Japan
Received September 30, 1997; accepted April 24, 1998.