Raised levels of antibodies to human viruses at the clinical onset of autoimmune chronic active hepatitis


Department of Pathology, The Gade Institute, Haukeland Hospital, N-5021 Bergen. Norway.


Summary. Patients with autoimmune chronic active hepatitis (AICAH) often have very high titres of antibodies to rubella and/or measles virus. In the present study a young girl at the clinical onset of AICAH exhibited very high titres of antibodies against influenza viruses A and B, parainfluenza viruses, rubella virus and varicella-zoster virus. The titres normalized over 2 months except for rubella and varicella-zoster antibodies. Strong reactivities were seen against the rubella structural proteins E1, E2 and C in Western blot but IgM antibodies were not demonstrated. Total IgG was increased with normal ratios of subclasses. The IgG1 was the dominant antibody to E1 and E2, while IgG4 dominated the anti-C response. There was no significant shift in subclass reactivities over one year from onset. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR), using a nested primer set, was negative for rubella virus RNA in a liver biopsy obtained at the clinical onset and in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) 1 year later. Co-cultivation experiments using PBMC and permissive cell lines were also negative for rubella virus. Hence, in the very early phase of AICAH there may be a transiently enhanced antibody response to various unrelated viruses.