Myenteric neuronal antibodies in scleroderma: passive transfer evokes alterations in intestinal myoelectric activity in a rat model

J Lab Clin Med. 1999 Jun;133(6):551-6. doi: 10.1016/s0022-2143(99)90184-1.


Although the mechanism for neuropathic gastrointestinal motility disturbances in scleroderma is unknown, we have previously described anti-myenteric antibodies in some patients with scleroderma. The aim of this study was to screen patients with scleroderma who had gastrointestinal symptoms for the presence of anti-myenteric neuronal antibodies and then purify the immunoglobulin G (IgG) fraction from serum samples for passive immunization into a rat model and observe for intestinal motility effects. Patients with scleroderma were screened, a serum sample from a patient with high titer anti-myenteric neuronal antibodies was obtained, and IgG was purified. Using a rat model with chronic indwelling intestinal electrodes to measure intestinal myoelectric activity, we passively transferred the IgG from either control subjects or this patient with scleroderma. We immunosuppressed the rats and intraperitoneally injected IgG from control subjects and this patient with scleroderma daily for 7 days. Recordings of myoelectric activity in control injected rats revealed no difference from baseline, but a prolongation in the activity front duration and interval and a disruption were seen after scleroderma IgG injections. IgG from a patient with scleroderma with antimyenteric neuronal antibodies, when passively immunized into a rat model, evokes intestinal myoelectric activity alterations. We hypothesize that these antibodies could account for the gastrointestinal neuropathic motility disturbances seen in scleroderma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Intestine, Small / immunology
  • Intestine, Small / innervation
  • Intestine, Small / physiology*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Myenteric Plexus / immunology*
  • Myoelectric Complex, Migrating / immunology
  • Neurons / immunology*
  • Rats
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / immunology*


  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G