Approximately 5% of patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) lack characteristic anti-mitochondrial antibodies (AMA). Yet clinically AMA+ and AMA- patients are similar. Using both AMA+ and AMA- patients, we quantitated the frequency of autoreactive T cells that respond to the major CD4 T-cell epitope, PDC-E2 163-176, using limiting dilution assays and quantitation of IFN-γ, IL-10 and IL-4. Further, based on data that both PBC patients and healthy subjects have CD4+ T cells that recognize PDC-E2 163-176 but with differing costimulation requirements, assays were performed using two different antigen-presenting cell (APC) systems: either autologous peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) or HLA DR53 transfected mouse fibroblast cell lines (L-DR53). When costimulation-incompetent L-DR53 were used as APCs, the PDC-E2 CD4 T-cell frequency and capacity for IFN-γ production were equivalent in both AMA+ and AMA- patients but the frequencies of such cells were significantly lower in normals, with IL-10 production similar in all three groups. Thus, in PBC there is 'universal' autoreactive CD4+ T-cell immune responsiveness to the critical autoantigen, PDC-E2. These observations emphasize that the mitochondrial autoreactivity in PBC is a multi-lineage response and hence, AMA-negative PBC may be an anachronism that refers only to sera autoantibodies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy