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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 26 (2012), Issue 3, Pages 125-129
Original Article

Clinical Significance of Autoantibodies to P53 Protein in Patients with Autoimmune Liver Diseases

Takashi Himoto,1 Hirohito Yoneyama,2 Kazutaka Kurokohchi,2 Michio Inukai,1 Hisashi Masugata,1 Fuminori Goda,1 Reiji Haba,3 Seishiro Watanabe,4 Shoichi Senda,1 and Tsutomu Masaki2

1Department of Integrated Medicine, Kagawa University School of Medicine, Japan
2Department of Gastroenterology and Neurology, Kagawa University School of Medicine, Japan
3Department of Diagnosis Pathology, Kagawa University School of Medicine, Japan
4Department of Internal Medicine, Kagawa Prefectural Central Hospital, Kagawa, Japan

Received 12 June 2011; Accepted 2 July 2011

Copyright © 2012 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Mutations in the p53 gene leading to conformational changes in the p53 protein have been well established in many human cancers. Conformational changes and/or cellular accumulation of the protein may induce an immune response, resulting in circulating autoantibodies to p53, which have been documented in several types of cancers. Although rarely associated with autoimmune disease, a few reports have documented titres of anti-p53 autoantibodies in patients with autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis. The clinical relevance of circulating autoantibodies to p53, therefore, remains unclear. Accordingly, this study aimed to examine the prevalence and clinical relevance of anti-p53 autoantibodies in patients with selected autoimmune liver diseases.

BACKGROUND: Autoantibodies to p53 (anti-p53) are rarely present in the sera of patients with autoimmune diseases or the sera of patients with malignancies.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the prevalence of anti-p53 in patients with autoimmune liver disease including autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), AIH/PBC overlap syndrome (AIH/PBC OS) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), and to determine the clinical significance of anti-p53 in autoimmune liver diseases.

METHODS: Forty patients with AIH, 41 patients with PBC, eight patients with AIH/PBC OS and five patients with PSC were enrolled. Anti-p53 and antibodies to double-stranded DNA (anti-ds-DNA) were analyzed using commercially available ELISA kits. Demographic, laboratory and histological data were compared between the AIH groups seropositive and seronegative for anti-p53.

RESULTS: Six of 40 (15.0%) patients with AIH and four of eight (50.0%) patients with AIH/PBC OS were positive for anti-p53. One of 41 (2.4%) patients with PBC was also positive for anti-p53, but all five patients with PSC were negative, indicating a significantly higher prevalence of anti-p53 in patients with AIH or AIH/PBC OS compared with patients with PBC. None of the AIH patients positive for anti-p53 progressed to hepatic failure or relapsed after immunosuppressive treatment. Titres of anti-ds-DNA in patients with AIH and AIH/PBC OS significantly correlated with titres of anti-p53 (r=0.511; P=0.0213).

CONCLUSION: The emergence of anti-p53 is likely to be useful for discriminating AIH or AIH/PBC OS from PBC and helpful for predicting favourable prognoses in patients with AIH. DNA damage may trigger the production of anti-p53 in patients with AIH or AIH/PBC OS.