PURPOSE: A possible involvement of autoimmune mechanism in the pathogenesis of bronchial asthma has been proposed. Recently, alpha-enolase protein was identified as a major autoantigen recognized by circulating IgG autoantibodies in patients with severe asthma. To evaluate a possible pathogenetic significance of these autoantibodies in severe asthma, isotype (IgG, IgA, IgM, and IgE) and IgG subclass (IgG1, IgG2, IgG3, and IgG4) distributions of autoantibodies to recombinant human alpha-enolase protein were analyzed.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: We examined serum samples from 10 patients with severe asthma and 7 patients with mild-to-moderate asthma, and 5 healthy controls by immunoblot analysis. Severe asthma was defined as patients having at least 1 severe asthmatic exacerbation requiring an emergency department visit or admission in the last year despite continuous typical therapies.
RESULTS: IgG1 was the predominant IgG subclass antibody response to alpha-enolase protein in patients with severe asthma. IgG1 autoantibody to alpha-enolase protein was detected in 7 of 10 patients with severe asthma (70%), 1 of 7 patients with mild-to-moderate asthma (14.3%), and none of 5 healthy controls (0%) (chi-square test; p < 0.05). IgA, IgM, and IgE autoantibodies to alpha-enolase protein could not be detected in patients with severe asthma.
CONCLUSION: IgG1 subclass was the predominant type of autoantibody response to alpha-enolase protein in patients with severe asthma, suggests a possibility of IgG1 autoantibody-mediated complement activation in the pathogenesis of severe asthma.
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