Epithelial cell specificity and apotope recognition by serum autoantibodies in primary biliary cirrhosis

Guanghua Rong, Ren-Qian Zhong, Ana Lleo, Patrick Leung, Christopher Bowlus, Guo-Xiang Yang, Chen-Yen Yang, Ross Coppel, Aftab Ansari, Dean Cuebas, Howard Worman, Pietro Invernizzi, Gregory Gores, Gary Norman, Xiao-Song He, M Eric Gershwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


A major enigma of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is the selective targeting of biliary cells. Our laboratory has reported that following apoptosis human intrahepatic biliary epithelial cells (HiBEC) translocate the E2 subunit of the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex immunologically intact into apoptotic bodies, forming an apotope. However, the cell type and specificity of this reaction has not been fully defined. To address this issue we have investigated whether PDC-E2, BCOADC-E2, OGDC-E2, four additional inner mitochondrial enzymes and four nuclear antigens remain immunologically intact with respect to post-apoptotic translocation in HiBEC and 3 additional control epithelial cells. We report that all three 2-oxo acid dehydrogenase enzymes share the ability to remain intact within the apotope of HiBEC. Interestingly the E2 subunit of the branched chain 2-oxo acid dehydrogenase complex also remained intact in the other cell types tested. We extended the data using 95 AMA(+) and 19 AMA(-) PBC and 76 control sera for reactivity against the 7 mitochondrial proteins studied herein and also the ability of AMA(-) sera to react with HIBEC apotopes. Sera from 3/95 AMA(+) sera, but none of the controls, reacted with 2, 4-dienoyl CoA reductase 1 (DECR1), an enzyme also present intact only in the HiBEC apotope; DECR1 has not been previously associated with any autoimmune disease. Finally the specificity of HIBEC apotope reactivity was confined to AMA(+) sera. In conclusion, we submit that the biliary specificity of PBC is secondary to the unique processes of biliary apoptosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196 - 203
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Cite this