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Clinicopathological significance of antinuclear antibodies in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis


Dr Motoko Sasaki, Department of Human Pathology, Kanazawa University Graduate School of Medicine, Takaramachi 13-1, Kanazawa 920-8640, Japan. Email:


Aim:  Serum antinuclear antibodies (ANA) are occasionally noted in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). We examined the significance of ANA in NASH.

Methods:  We compared clinicopathological features in patients with ANA-positive NASH (n = 35) and ANA-negative NASH (n = 36). Inflammatory cell profiles and the distribution of oxidative stress markers were also examined immunohistochemically.

Results:  ANA-positive NASH was significantly associated with female gender (P = 0.005), high degree of portal inflammation (P = 0.039), interface activity (P = 0.036) and hepatocellular ballooning (P = 0.0008). In addition, ANA of high titer (320-fold or more) was significantly associated with the histological grade and stage of NASH (P = 0.02). The degree of steatosis wais rather mild in the high-titer ANA group(P = 0.01). The analysis of inflammatory cell profiles revealed that CD3-positive T cells were predominant and plasma cells were rather few in the portal area and hepatic lobules in both ANA-positive and ANA-negative groups. There was no difference in the distribution of oxidative stress markers between ANA-positive and ANA-negative groups.

Conclusion:  These findings suggest that the presence of ANA may be related to the progression of NASH and that a different type of autoimmune mechanism may be involved in the pathogenesis of NASH with ANA, compared to the pathogenesis of autoimmune hepatitis.