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Abstract

Pooled sera collected from cirrhotic patients was fractionated by affinity chromatography with a fibronectin receptor monoclonal antibody against the β-subunit of fibronectin receptor. Eluates were assayed using Western immunoblotting. The relative mobility of the protein reactive with fibronectin receptor antibody was nearly identical to that of the β-subunit of fibronectin receptor, confirming that fibronectin receptor is present in human serum. Serum levels of the β-subunit of fibronectin receptor were analyzed by sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in patients with various liver diseases. The serum level of fibronectin receptor (μg/ml) was significantly higher in patients with chronic hepatitis (inactive, 2.59 ± 0.04; active, 3.45 ± 0.13), cirrhosis (4.77 ± 0.30), alcoholic liver disease (2.96 ± 0.16) and hepatocellular carcinoma (4.71 ± 0.49) than in normal subjects (2.11 ± 0.08). Strong positive correlation was observed between serum levels of fibronectin receptor and histological findings, particularly in the degree of hepatic fibrosis. Immunohistochemical studies with fibronectin receptor antibody revealed that the β-subunit of fibronectin receptor was present on the plasma membrane of hepatocytes and sinusoidal lining cells in the normal liver and was increased in fibrotic areas and on the plasma membrane of hepatocytes and sinusoidal lining cells of fibrotic liver. The serum level of fibronectin receptor in patients with chronic liver diseases may therefore be a useful marker of hepatic fibrosis. (HEPATOLOGY 1991;14:244–250.)