Platelet-associated IgM elevated in patients with chronic hepatitis C contains no anti-platelet autoantibodies


The Second Department of Internal Medicine, Osaka University Medical School, 2–2, Yamadaoka, Suita, Osaka, 565, Japan


Abstract: We investigated whether thrombocytopenia in patients with chronic hepatitis C is due to anti-platelet autoantibodies. Platelet-associated IgG (PAIgG) and platelet-associated IgM (PAIgM) were measured by direct immunofluorescent flow cytometric analysis. Elevation of PAIgM level was detected in 70% of chronic hepatitis C patients, while only a mild elevation of PAIgG level was detected in 32% of the cases. The elevation of PAIgM values in these patients was comparable to that in patients with chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). However, elevated PAIgM was also found in both patients with and without thrombocytopenia, and no correlation was found between PAIgM and platelet count. Eluted PAIgM did not react with normal platelets in all cases with a positive PAIgM value, indicating that eluted PAIgM contained no detectable anti-platelet antibodies. During alpha-interferon therapy, the level of PAIgM increased in association with the decrease in platelet counts in 75% of the cases; however, eluted PAIgM at any day point never reacted with platelets from normal donors. PAIgM was elevated in patients with chronic hepatitis C, but contained no detectable anti-platelet autoantibodies. Thrombocytopenia in these patients is not due to anti-platelet autoantibodies.