Aim: To assess the prevalence of a panel of serologic markers that reflect gut barrier dysfunction in a mixed cohort of pediatric and adult primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) patients. Methods: Sera of 67 PSC patients [median age (range): 32 (5-79) years, concomitant IBD: 67% and cirrhosis: 20%] were assayed for the presence of antibodies against to F-actin (AAA IgA/IgG) and gliadin (AGA IgA/IgG)] and for serum level of intestinal fatty acid-binding protein (I-FABP) by ELISA. Markers of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) exposure [LPS binding protein (LBP)] and various antimicrobial antibodies [anti-OMP Plus IgA and endotoxin core IgA antibody (EndoCAb)] were also determined. Poor disease outcome was defined as orthotopic liver transplantation and/or liver-related death during the follow-up [median: 99 (14-106) mo]. One hundred and fifty-three healthy subjects (HCONT) and 172 ulcerative colitis (UC) patients were the controls. Results: A total of 28.4%, 28.0%, 9% and 20.9% of PSC patients were positive for AAA IgA, AAA IgG, AGA IgA and AGA IgG, respectively. Frequencies of AAA IgA and AAA IgG (P < 0.001, for both) and AGA IgG (P = 0.01, for both) but not AGA IgA were significantly higher compared to both of the HCONT and the UC groups. In survival analysis, AAA IgA-positivity was revealed as an independent predictor of poor disease outcome after adjusting either for the presence of cirrhosis [HR = 5.15 (1.27-20.86), P = 0.022 or for the Mayo risk score (HR = 4.24 (0.99-18.21), P = 0.052]. AAA IgA-positivity was significantly associated with higher frequency of antimicrobial antibodies (P < 0.001 for EndoCab IgA and P = 0.012 for anti-OMP Plus IgA) and higher level of the enterocyte damage marker (median I-FABPAAA IgA pos vs neg: 365 vs 166 pg/mL, P = 0.011), but not with serum LBP level. Conclusion: Presence of IgA type AAA identified PSC patients with progressive disease. Moreover, it is associated with enhanced mucosal immune response to various microbial antigens and enterocyte damage further highlighting the importance of the gut-liver interaction in PSC.
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