Early detection is the key to treating so many types of cancer. Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), chronic inflammation of the liver, is brought about by an immune system disorder. AIH must be detected early in order to be treated successfully. Symptoms are not specific. The cause of AIH is unknown.
A recent article in MyScience describes how the patient’s immune system does not recognize its own liver cells and goes on the attack against this “foreign invader.” AIH may lead to fibrosis (scarring) and eventually cirrhosis and organ transplant.
About the New Test
Senior physician Richard Taubert, M.D., and his associates at Hannover’s Medical School have developed an improved antibody test. Antibodies are now considered to be critical to many diagnostic tests. Their normal function is to attach to foreign substances and allow the body’s immune system to destroy the invaders.
The new test can diagnose AIH more reliably and rapidly than current tests. As part of their discovery, scientists examined over one thousand blood samples stored at ten centers in Europe.
About lgG Antibody
Immunoglobulin G (lgG) represents about 75% of serum antibodies in humans. The antibody lgG, which is the most common, is found in blood circulation. By binding to certain key pathogen proteins (antigens) lgG prevents the pathogens from invading the host cells which are vulnerable to infectious agents.
Dr. Taubert explained that immunoglobulins are called autoantibodies when they work against the body’s own tissue. He further explained that detecting autoantibodies is critical in diagnosing AIH together with a liver biopsy and tissue examinations.
About AIH Markers
Current tests have only been partially accurate. The two most glaring inconsistencies are that autoantibodies are not found in every AIH patient and conversely, they are found in patients with other diseases.
The challenge the researchers faced was to find typical AIH autoantibodies that were not the same as the markers generally found in liver diseases.
While searching they found an uncommon immunoglobulin in AIH patients’ blood. These unusual proteins are called polyreactive immunoglobulins (pIgG) which bind to many human proteins throughout the body including the HIP1R protein. Dr. Taubert explained that the binding of pIgG to HIP1R allows the detection of pIgG to be used for diagnostics.
The new test has proven to be more accurate and a significant improvement over autoantibodies currently used for AIH diagnosis. Now people who do not form autoantibodies may be diagnosed through the new blood tests.
The research team examined several hundred samples of blood from centers for rare liver disease in Europe. Now their goal is to see that these tests, which have been granted a patent, are available to the majority of laboratories.