Autoantibodies to basement membrane proteins BP180 and BP230 are commonly detected in normal subjects by immunoblotting

Nemesha Desai, Jill Allen, Iaisha Ali, Vanessa Venning, Fenella Wojnarowska
Australasian Journal of Dermatology 2008, 49 (3): 137-41
Autoantibodies to basement membrane proteins BP180 and BP230 are characteristic of bullous pemphigoid and other subepidermal immunobullous disorders. These antibodies are, however, reported in other pruritic dermatoses, non-bullous disorders and non-cutaneous disease. Few studies have assessed basement membrane antibodies in normal subjects; antibody prevalence in this population is not clear. This study aims to examine basement membrane zone antibodies in normal middle-aged to elderly subjects. Sera from 61 healthy subjects (majority age 50-70 years) were assessed by immunoblot, indirect immunofluorescence and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Ninety-one bullous pemphigoid patients acted as positive controls. Antigenic target, antibody class and titre were examined; sera binding BP180 were assessed for reactivity to the non-collagenous 16A (NC16A) domain. Thirty-six normal subjects (59%) had antibodies to either BP180 or BP230 on immunoblot analysis. BP180 was the commonest target antigen, detected in 35 subjects; binding to the immunodominant NC16A domain was not detected. Immunofluorescence was positive in three subjects. Of the bullous pemphigoid sera, 88% were positive on immunoblot or immunofluorescence; a higher frequency had antibodies against BP230. In conclusion, significant numbers of normal healthy subjects have circulating autoantibodies to basement membrane proteins, chiefly BP180 detectable by immunoblot, but these do not bind the NC16A domain.

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