Autoantibodies in the Diagnosis and Management of Liver Disease

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Autoantibodies are nonpathogenic manifestations of immune reactivity, and they may occur in acute and chronic liver diseases. Autoantibodies may be consequences rather than causes of the liver injury, and they should be regarded as diagnostic clues rather than etiologic markers. Conventional autoantibodies used in the categorization of autoimmune liver disease are antinuclear antibodies, smooth muscle antibodies, antibodies to liver/kidney microsome type 1, antimitochondrial antibodies, and atypical perinuclear anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies. Ancillary autoantibodies that enhance diagnostic specificity, have prognostic connotation, or direct treatment are antibodies to endomysium, tissue transglutaminase, histones, doubled-stranded DNA, and actin. Autoantibodies that have an emerging diagnostic and prognostic significance are antibodies to soluble liver antigen/liver pancreas, asialoglycoprotein receptor, liver cytosol type 1, and nuclear pore complex antigens. Autoantibodies of uncertain clinical value that remain under investigation are antibodies to chromatin, lactoferrin, and Saccharomyces cervisiae. Continued recognition and characterization of autoantibodies should improve diagnostic precision, provide prognostic indices, and elucidate target autoantigens. These advances may in turn clarify pathogenic mechanisms, facilitate the development of animal models, and generate novel site-specific therapies.

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