Diagnostic Value of Anti-F-Actin Antibodies in a French Multicenter Study


Address for correspondence: Dr. C. Johanet, Service d'Immunologie et Hématologie Biologiques, Hôpital Saint-Antoine, 184 rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, 75571 Paris Cedex 12, France. Voice: +33-1-49-28-20-11; fax: +33-1-49-28-30-46. catherine.johanet@sat.ap-hop-paris.fr


Abstract: According to international criteria, autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) type 1 is characterized by the presence of antinuclear or anti-smooth muscle antibodies (SMA) with F-actin specificity. SMA have been found in 85% of AIH patients, but are not specific to this disease, and anti-F-actin specificity is not always verified when SMA are detected. The objective of this study was to determine the diagnostic value of anti-F-actin antibodies in a large population. A multicenter study involving 12 clinical centers was performed. Patients were selected on the basis of the presence of F-actin SMA detected by indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) on rat liver-kidney-stomach sections and was confirmed by IIF on Hep2 cells treated with colchicine, or F-actin dot-blot. The clinical status of patients was determined from their medical records. One hundred sixty-eight patients were included: 76% women, 24% men; mean age of 45 years (range, 2–88 years), with a bimodal age distribution. Sixty percent had AIH type 1, and 40% had another disease. In the group of women younger than 25 years, 90% had AIH type 1. Other pathologies associated with antiactin were other liver diseases (19%), including viral hepatitis C (7%), and nonliver diseases (21%), including connective tissue diseases (12%). Antibody titers were higher in AIH than in other diseases. Antiactin antibodies are of major diagnostic value in AIH, especially in young women; they may be found in other disease settings, but mostly at low levels.