A significant pathogenetic role of antimuscarinic acetylcholine receptor-3 (anti-m3AChR) autoantibodies in primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) has been suggested. However, the binding of these antibodies to the receptors in the target tissues has not yet been demonstrated. In this study, the binding characteristics of pSS sera and anti-m3AChR-monospecific sera affinity-purified from pSS patients to labial salivary gland samples from healthy subjects were studied with light- and electron microscopy. Furthermore, the ultrastructural localisation of in vivo deposited antibodies in pSS salivary glands was also investigated. Light microscopic immunohistochemistry revealed the binding of the anti-m3AChR-specific sera to the membrane of acinar cells. Similar reaction end-products were observed in the pSS salivary gland epithelial cell membranes. With electron microscopy, the autoantibody binding was observed to be localised to the junctions of epithelial cell membranes with nerve endings, both in normal and pSS glands. The results indicate that anti-m3AChR antibodies bind to the receptors in the salivary glands.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy