Background/aims: Antibodies to cytochrome P450 2D6, also known as LKM1-autoantibodies, are characteristic for a subgroup of patients with autoimmune hepatitis, but can also occasionally be found in hepatitis C. We observed the occurrence of LKM1-autoantibodies 4 months after liver transplantation for Wilson's disease, in close association with a steroid-resistant rejection episode, in the absence of evidence for autoimmune hepatitis or hepatitis C.
Methods: Sera from several time points prior to and following transplantation were tested for LKM-reactivity by immunofluorescence, ELISA and Western blotting. Antigen specificity was confirmed by Western blotting analysis on different cytochrome P450 isoenzymes. The absence of viral hepatitis C and hepatitis G virus infection was confirmed by polymerase chain reaction. The serum of the organ donor was also tested.
Results: All the sera prior to transplantation and up to 4 months after transplantation were LKM-negative by all assay systems used. In the course of a steroid-resistant rejection episode at this time, the patient developed LKM antibodies at high titre (70% in inhibition ELISA) and has remained positive since (now more than 4 years). Reactivity was exclusively to the cytochrome isoenzyme 2D6. Hepatitis C infection never occurred, but hepatitis G was transiently present many years prior to transplantation. The donor serum was negative for all autoantibodies and for hepatitis C and G virus infection.
Discussion: We here describe a patient developing LKM1-autoantibodies without evidence of autoimmune or viral hepatitis. The close temporal association with a transplant rejection episode suggests immunological mechanisms of rejection together with hepatocellular injury as a pathogenetic mechanism.