Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a progressive cholestatic liver disease characterized by the immune-mediated destruction of biliary epithelial cells in small intrahepatic bile ducts. The disease is characterized by circulating antimitochondrial antibodies (AMAs) as well as disease-specific antinuclear antibodies, cholestatic liver function tests, and characteristic histological features, including granulomas. A variety of organisms are involved in granuloma formation, of which mycobacteria are the most commonly associated. This has led to the hypothesis that mycobacteria may be involved in the pathogenesis of PBC, along with other infectious agents. Additionally, AMAs are found in a subgroup of patients with mycobacterial infections, such as leprosy and pulmonary tuberculosis. Antibodies against species-specific mycobacterial proteins have been reported in patients with PBC, but it is not clear whether these antibodies are specific for the disease. In addition, data in support of the involvement of the role of molecular mimicry between mycobacterial and human mitochondrial antigens as triggers of cross-reactive immune responses leading to the loss of immunological tolerance, and the induction of pathological features have been published. Thus, antibodies against mycobacterial heat shock protein appear to cross-recognize AMA-specific autoantigens, but it is not clear whether these autoantibodies are mycobacterium-species-specific, and whether they are pathogenic or incidental. The view that mycobacteria are infectious triggers of PBC is intriguing, but the data provided so far are not conclusive.
Antimitochondrial antibodies; Autoantibody; Autoimmunity; Cholestasis; Heat shock; Infection; Liver disease; Liver failure; Mycobacterium; Tuberculosis
AIM: To assess the hepatitis B virus (HBV)-DNA and the prevalence of occult HBV infection in end-stage renal failure (ESRF) patients from Central Greece.
METHODS: Sera from 366 ESRF patients attending five out of six dialysis units from Central Greece were investigated for HBV-DNA by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Only serum samples with repeatedly detectable HBV-DNA were considered positive. IgG antibodies to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV) were tested by a third generation enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), while IgG antibodies to hepatitis E virus (anti-HEV) were tested by two commercially available ELISAs.
RESULTS: HBV-DNA was detected in 15/366 patients (4.1%) and HBsAg in 20/366 (5.5%). The prevalence of occult HBV infection was 0.9% (3/346 HBsAg-negative patients). Occult HBV was not associated with a specific marker of HBV infection or anti-HCV or anti-HEV reactivity. There was no significant difference in HBV-DNA titres, demographic and biochemical features, between patients with occult HBV infection and those with HBsAg-positive chronic HBV infection.
CONCLUSION: In central Greece, 4% of ESRF patients had detectable HBV-DNA, though in this setting, the prevalence of occult HBV seems to be very low (0.9%).
Hepatitis B virus-DNA; Occult hepatitis B virus infection; Haemodialysis; Hepatitis B; Real-time polymerase chain reaction
Flow cytometric analysis of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) signaling cascade is optimally achieved by methanol permeabilization protocols. Such protocols suffer from the difficulties to accurately detect intracellular cytokines and surface epitopes of infrequent cell subpopulations, which are removed by methanol. To overcome these limitations, we have modified methanol-based phosphoflow protocols using several commercially available antibody clones suitable for surface antigens, intracellular cytokines, and p38 MAPK. These included markers of B cells (CD19, CD20, and CD22), T cells (CD3, CD4, and CD8), NK (CD56 and CD7), and dendritic cells (CD11c). We have also tested surface markers of costimulatory molecules, such as CD27. We have successfully determined simultaneous expression of IFN-γ, as well as IL-10, and phosphorylated p38 in cell subsets. The optimized phosphoflow protocol has also been successfully applied in peripheral blood mononuclear cells or purified cell subpopulations from patients with various autoimmune diseases. In conclusion, our refined phosphoflow cytometric approach allows simultaneous detection of p38 MAPK activity and intracellular cytokine expression and could be used as an important tool to study signaling cascades in autoimmunity.
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is the main cause of chronic gastritis and a major risk factor for gastric cancer. This pathogen has also been considered a potential trigger of gastric autoimmunity, and in particular of autoimmune gastritis. However, a considerable number of reports have attempted to link H. pylori infection with the development of extra-gastrointestinal autoimmune disorders, affecting organs not immediately relevant to the stomach. This review discusses the current evidence in support or against the role of H. pylori as a potential trigger of autoimmune rheumatic and skin diseases, as well as organ specific autoimmune diseases. We discuss epidemiological, serological, immunological and experimental evidence associating this pathogen with autoimmune diseases. Although over one hundred autoimmune diseases have been investigated in relation to H. pylori, we discuss a select number of papers with a larger literature base, and include Sjögrens syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, vasculitides, autoimmune skin conditions, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, autoimmune thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica and autoimmune liver diseases. Specific mention is given to those studies reporting an association of anti-H. pylori antibodies with the presence of autoimmune disease-specific clinical parameters, as well as those failing to find such associations. We also provide helpful hints for future research.
Autoimmunity; Helicobacter pylori; Infection; Gastritis; Mimicry; Rheumatology
AIM: To present the characteristics, management and outcome of patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections concurrent with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC).
METHODS: Since January 2001 to September 2009, we retrospectively evaluated the medical records of all HBV (n = 1493) and HCV patients (n = 526) who are followed in our center for the presence of concurrent PBC. Seventeen patients identified with concurrent viral hepatitis and PBC (8 HCV and PBC; follow-up: 61 ± 37 mo and 9 HBV and PBC; follow-up: 57 ± 38 mo). PBC diagnosis was established if the patients met at least two of the following criteria: positivity for antimitochondrial antibody, elevated cholestatic enzymes and histological lesions of PBC.
RESULTS: HCV or HBV diagnosis preceded that of PBC in most patients by many years. PBC diagnosis was based on the presence of antimitochondrial antibody and elevated cholestatic enzymes in all 17 patients, while one third (5/17; 29.4%) experienced severe pruritus many years before diagnosis. Patients with PBC and HBV were significantly younger at diagnosis of PBC compared to patients with PBC and HCV (56.1 ± 11.2 vs 68.5 ± 10.3, respectively, P < 0.05). At initial clinical and histological assessment the majority of patients were cirrhotics (10/17; 58.8%) with the group of PBC and HCV carrying the highest frequency (87.5% vs 33.3% in PBC and HBV; P < 0.05). The patients with HBV and concomitant PBC seem to have better outcome compared to those with HCV and PBC since none of the 6 non-cirrhotics with HBV and PBC developed cirrhosis during follow-up.
CONCLUSION: PBC diagnosis in HBV or HCV patients is very difficult and usually delayed. Therefore, in any case, cholestasis should alert physicians to further search for PBC.
Antimitochindrial antibodies; Autoimmune liver disease; Hepatitis B virus; Hepatitis C virus; Primary biliary cirrhosis.
The pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases includes a combination of genetic factors and environmental exposures including infectious agents. Infectious triggers are commonly indicated as being involved in the induction of autoimmune disease, with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) being implicated in several autoimmune disorders. EBV is appealing in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease, due to its high prevalence worldwide, its persistency throughout life in the host's B lymphocytes, and its ability to alter the host's immune response and to inhibit apoptosis. However, the evidence in support of EBV in the pathogenesis varies among diseases. Autoimmune liver diseases (AiLDs), including autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), have a potential causative link with EBV. The data surrounding EBV and AiLD are scarce. The lack of evidence surrounding EBV in AiLD may also be reflective of the rarity of these conditions. EBV infection has also been linked to other autoimmune conditions, which are often found to be concomitant with AiLD. This paper will critically examine the literature surrounding the link between EBV infection and AiLD development. The current evidence is far from being conclusive of the theory of a link between EBV and AiLD.
Salmonella spp. is the cause of commonly encountered infections, with seasonal pattern of occurrence and worldwide distribution. Some of the clinical manifestations such as gastroenteritis and bacteremia are common, whereas others like mycotic aneurysms and osteomyelitis are infrequent especially in immunocompetent patients. Salmonella has been rarely described as a cause of myocarditis in the literature. We describe a case of an 18-year-old previously healthy male patient with myocarditis after Salmonella enteritidis infection. Clinical manifestations and diagnostic approach of this severe complication are discussed with a review of the literature.
The pathogenetic mechanisms responsible for the induction of immune-mediated disorders, such as psoriasis, remain not well characterized. Molecular signaling pathways are not well described in psoriasis, as well as psoriatic arthritis, which is seen in up to 40% of patients with psoriasis. Signaling pathway defects have long been hypothesized to participate in the pathology of psoriasis, yet their implication in the altered psoriatic gene expression still remains unclear. Emerging data suggest a potential pathogenic role for mitogen activated protein kinases p38 (p38 MAPK) extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2), and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) in the development of psoriasis. The data are still limited, though, for psoriatic arthritis. This review discusses the current data suggesting a crucial role for p38 MAPK in the pathogenesis of these disorders.
p38 mitogen activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK) signaling plays a major role in the modulation of immune-mediated inflammatory responses and therefore has been linked with several autoimmune diseases. The extent of the involvement of p38 MAPK in the pathogenesis of autoimmune blistering diseases has started to emerge, but whether it pays a critical role is a matter of debate. The activity of p38 MAPK has been studied in great detail during the loss of keratinocyte cell-cell adhesions and the development of pemphigus vulgaris (PV) and pemphigus foliaceus (PF). These diseases are characterised by autoantibodies targeting desmogleins (Dsg). Whether autoantibody-antigen interactions can trigger signaling pathways (such as p38 MAPK) that are tightly linked to the secretion of inflammatory mediators which may perpetuate inflammation and tissue damage in pemphigus remains unclear. Yet, the ability of p38 MAPK inhibitors to block activation of the proapoptotic proteinase caspase-3 suggests that the induction of apoptosis may be a consequence of p38 MAPK activation during acantholysis in PV. This review discusses the current evidence for the role of p38 MAPK in the pathogenesis of pemphigus. We will also present data relating to the targeting of these cascades as a means of therapeutic intervention.
CUZD1, the CUB, and zona pellucida-like domains-containing protein 1, is a newly identified antigen of pancreatic autoantibodies (PAB) giving a reticulogranular pattern in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases, and in particular Crohn's disease. The exact mechanisms by which this pancreatic antigen becomes the target of IBD-specific pancreatic autoantibodies are unclear. At the same time, evolving data strongly support a role for CUZD1 in carcinogenesis. Human CUZD1 is mapped at chromosome 10q26.13 and the loss of this region is a frequent event in various malignant tumours. mRNA overexpression of CUZD1 has been noted in ovarian cancer and serum levels of CUZD1 are elevated in women with ovarian cancer and patients suffering from pancreatic cancer. CUZD1 appears to be one of the relatively few biomarkers that serve as both cancer biomarker and autoantigen of autoantibodies in an autoimmune disease unrelated to cancerous organs. This review discusses the role of CUZD1 in cancer and autoimmunity. We anticipate that a better understanding of the function of CUZD1 will help us to understand how it becomes the focus of an autoimmune attack specifically targeting the intestine and its enigmatic role in carcinogenesis.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a progressive cholestatic liver disease characterised serologically by cholestasis and the presence of high-titre antimitochondrial antibodies, and histologically by chronic nonsuppurative cholangitis and granulomata. As PBC is a granulomatous disease and Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the most frequent cause of granulomata, a causal relation between tuberculosis and PBC has been suggested. Attempts to find serological evidence of PBC-specific autoantibodies such as AMA have been made and, conversely, granulomatous livers from patients with PBC have been investigated for molecular evidence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This paper discusses in detail the reported data in support or against an association between Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and PBC. We discuss the immunological and microbiological data exploring the association of PBC with exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We also discuss the findings of large epidemiologic studies investigating the association of PBC with preexistent or concomitant disorders and the relevance of these findings with tuberculosis. Genome-wide association studies in patients with tuberculosis as well as in patients with PBC provide conclusive hints regarding the assumed association between exposure to this mycobacterium and the induction of PBC. Analysis of these data suggest that Mycobacterium tuberculosis is an unlikely infectious trigger of PBC.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a progressive cholestatic liver disease characterized serologically by cholestasis and the presence of high-titre antimitochondrial antibodies and histologically by chronic nonsuppurative cholangitis and granulomata. PBC patients often have concomitant autoimmune diseases, including arthropathies. This raises the question as to whether there are shared features in the pathogenesis of those diseases with the pathogenesis of PBC. Epidemiological and large case studies have indicated that although the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is not significantly raised in PBC patients, there appears to be a higher rate of RA in PBC patients and their relatives. Genetic studies have demonstrated that several genes implicated in PBC have also been implicated in RA. Epigenetic studies provided a wealth of data regarding RA, but the findings on epigenetic changes in PBC are very limited. As well, certain infectious agents identified in the pathogenesis of PBC may also play a role in the pathogenesis of RA. These data suggest that although RA is not significantly present in PBC, some individuals with certain genetic traits and environmental exposures may develop both conditions. This concept may also apply to other concomitant diseases found in PBC patients.
Why zymogen glycoprotein 2 (GP2), the Crohn's disease (CD)-specific pancreatic autoantigen, is the major target of humoral autoimmunity in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) is uknown. Recent evidence demonstrates that GP2 is also present on the apical surface of microfold (M) intestinal cells. As the colon lacks GP2-rich M cells, we assumed that patients with colonic CD are seronegative for anti-GP2. Anti-GP2 antibodies were tested in 225 CDs, including 45 patients with colonic location (L2), 45 with terminal ileum (L1) and 135 with ileocolonic involvement; 225 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) were also tested. Anti-GP2 reactivity was detected in 59 (26.2%) CDs and 15 (6.7%) UCs (P < 0.001). Only 5 CDs with L2 had anti-GP2 antibodies, compared to 54/180 (30.0%, P = 0.0128) of the CDs with L1 and L3. Anti-GP2 antibody positive CD patients had higher ASCA titres compared to seronegative cases. Amongst the 128 CD patients with previous surgical intervention, 45 (35.0%) were anti-GP2 antibody positive compared to 14/97 (14.0%) without surgical (P < 0.001). Our data support the assumption that ileal inflammation is required for the development of anti-GP2 antibodies in CD, and suggest that the intestine rather than the pancreatic juice is the antigenic source required for the initiation of anti-GP2 antibodies.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a cholestatic liver disease of autoimmune origin, characterised by the destruction of small intrahepatic bile ducts. The disease has an unpredictable clinical course but may progress to fibrosis and cirrhosis. The diagnostic hallmark of PBC is the presence of disease-specific antimitochondrial antibodies (AMA), which are pathognomonic for the development of PBC. The disease overwhelmingly affects females, with some cases of male PBC being reported. The reasons underlying the low incidence of males with PBC are largely unknown. Epidemiological studies estimate that approximately 7–11% of PBC patients are males. There does not appear to be any histological, serological, or biochemical differences between male and female PBC, although the symptomatology may differ, with males being at higher risk of life-threatening complications such as gastrointestinal bleeding and hepatoma. Studies on X chromosome and sex hormones are of interest when studying the low preponderance of PBC in males; however, these studies are far from conclusive. This paper will critically analyze the literature surrounding PBC in males.
Patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) often have concurrent limited systemic sclerosis (SSc). Conversely, up to one-fourth of SSc patients are positive for PBC-specific antimitochondrial antibodies (AMA). The mechanisms responsible for the co-occurrence of these diseases are largely unknown. Genetic, epigenetic, environmental, and infectious factors appear to be important for the pathogenesis of the disease, but the hierarchy of events are not well defined. Patients with SSc and PBC have an increased morbidity and mortality compared with the general population, but whether the presence of both diseases in an affected individual worsens the prognosis and/or outcome of either disease is not clear. Some case reports suggested that the presence of SSc in PBC patents is associated with a more favorable prognosis of the liver disease, whereas others report an increased mortality in patients with PBC and SSc compared to patients with PBC alone. This paper discusses the features of patients with PBC-associated SSc. Our aims are to clarify some of the pathogenetic, diagnostic, and clinical challenges that are currently faced in the routine management of these patients. We also intend to provide some practical hints for practitioners that will assist in the early identification of patients with PBC-associated SSc.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a cholestatic liver disease characterised by the autoimmune destruction of the small intrahepatic bile ducts. The disease has an unpredictable clinical course, but may progress to fibrosis and cirrhosis. Although medical treatment with urseodeoxycholic acid is largely successful, some patients may progress to liver failure requiring liver transplantation. PBC is characterised by the presence of disease specific anti-mitochondrial (AMA) antibodies, which are pathognomonic for PBC development. The disease demonstrates an overwhelming female preponderance and virtually all women with PBC present in middle age. The reasons for this are unknown; however several environmental and immunological factors may be involved. As the immune systems ages, it become less self tolerant, and mounts a weaker response to pathogens, possibly leading to cross reactivity or molecular mimicry. Some individuals display immunological changes which encourage the development of autoimmune disease. Risk factors implicated in PBC include recurrent urinary tract infection in females, as well as an increased prevalence of reproductive complications. These risk factors may work in concert with and possibly even accelerate, immune system ageing, contributing to PBC development. This review will examine the changes that occur in the immune system with ageing, paying particular attention to those changes which contribute to the development of autoimmune disease with increasing age. The review also discusses risk factors which may account for the increased female predominance of PBC, such as recurrent UTI and oestrogens.
ageing; apoptosis; autoantibody; autoimmunity; infection
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a chronic immune-mediated cholestatic liver disease of unknown aetiology which affects mostly women in middle age. Familial PBC is when PBC affects more than one member of the same family, and data suggest that first-degree relatives of PBC patients have an increased risk of developing the disease. Most often, these familial clusters involve mother-daughter pairs, which is consistent with the female preponderance of the disease. These clusters provide evidence towards a genetic basis underlying PBC. However, clusters of nonrelated individuals have also been reported, giving strength to an environmental component. Twin studies have demonstrated a high concordance for PBC in monozygotic twins and a low concordance among dizygotic twins. In conclusion, studies of PBC in families clearly demonstrate that genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors play a role in the development of the disease.
Various environmental factors have been proposed as triggers of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), a progressive autoimmune cholestatic liver disease which is characterised by the destruction of the small intrahepatic bile ducts. Support for their pathogenic role in PBC is provided by epidemiological studies reporting familial clustering and clusters of the disease within a given geographical area. The seminal study by Triger reporting that the great majority of PBC cases in the English city of Sheffield drank water from a specific water reservoir, has been followed by studies reporting disease 'hot spots' within a restricted geographic region of the former coal mining area of Newcastle. The New York study reporting an increased risk and significant clustering of PBC cases near toxic federal waste disposal sites has added strength to the notion that environmental factors, possibly in the form of infectious agents or toxic/chemical environmental factors in areas of contaminated land, water or polluted air may play a key role in the development of the disease. This review discusses the findings of reports investigating environmental factors which may contribute to the cause of primary biliary cirrhosis.
Autoimmunity; disease; bile ducts; cholestasis; liver; immunity; tolerance; mimicry; cross-reactivity; environment
We conducted a study in order to determine the usefulness and diagnostic value of International Autoimmune Hepatitis Group (IAHG) score in non-autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) hepatic disorders as well as in AIH/overlap syndromes and in cases with coexistence of AIH and other liver diseases.
We applied the IAHG score in 423 patients with liver diseases excluding patients with AIH, AIH/overlap syndromes and AIH with concurrent other liver disease namely, patients with chronic hepatitis B (n = 109), chronic hepatitis C (n = 95), chronic hepatitis D (n = 4), alchoholic liver disease (n = 28), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (n = 55), autoimmune cholestatic liver diseases (n = 77), liver disorders of undefined origin (n = 32) and with miscellaneous hepatic disorders (n = 23). 24 patients with AIH associated with any kind of liver disorder including 10 patients with AIH/overlap syndromes and 14 AIH with concurrent other liver disease were also investigated. 43 patients with AIH consisted the control group.
The specificity of the score was 98.1% while the sensitivity in unmasking AIH in patients with either AIH/overlap syndromes or AIH with concurrent other liver diseases was only 50% and 78.6%. In the binary logistic regression model, the presence of other autoimmune diseases (p < 0.001), the total histological score (p < 0.001) and positivity for autoantibodies (p < 0.05) were identified as independent predictors for the presnce of AIH/ovea syndromes o AI with concurren other liver diseass.
The IAHG scoring system has very good specificity for excluding AIH in patients with chronic liver diseases but not that sensitivity in order to unmask AIH/overlap syndromes or AIH with concurrent other liver diseases. The presence of other autoimmune diseases or autoantibody markers in the absence of hepatitis viral markers should alarm physicians for the possible presence of AIH either as "pure" AIH or in association with other liver disorders (AIH/overlap syndromes or AIH with concurrent other liver diseases). Under these conditions, liver histology seems essential and it must always be included in the work up of hepatic patients.
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.
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.
Six out of 18 (33%) anti-LKMpos/HCVpos patients tested positive for anti-LC1 compared to 1/120 (0.83%) anti-LKMneg/HCVpos patients and 0/120 (0%) of the anti-LKM1neg/HBVpos 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.
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-LKM1pos/HCVpos patients.