Autoantibody production by patients infected with Leishmania

Clin Exp Immunol. 1989 May;76(2):190-7.


Sera from 29 patients with visceral leishmaniasis and 14 patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis were tested against a panel of nine nuclear antigens employing an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Anti- Sm, RNP, SS-A and SS-B antibodies were present in high titres in 83, 86, 36 and 73 per cent of the patients with visceral leishmaniasis and in 7, 14, 25 and 25 per cent of the patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis. One serum from a patient with visceral leishmaniasis which reacted strongly with Sm, RNP, SS-A and SS-B was examined by immunoblotting on extractable nuclear antigen from Hela cells. This serum binds to nine different antigenic bands (16, 23, 29, 30, 40, 50, 58, 100 and 115 kD). These same antigens were recognized by serum from a patient with systemic lupus erythematosus. The binding of visceral leishmaniasis serum antibodies to ribonucleoproteins was inhibited by prior incubation of serum with either leishmanial membrane antigens, from four different species of Leishmania, or intact cells of Leishmania donovani, implying molecular resemblance between common leishmanial antigens and ribonuclear antigens. It seems that appearance of autoantibodies to ribonucleoproteins in sera of patients infected with Leishmania is not only due to simply polyclonal activation of lymphocytes, but is also the result of a molecular mimicry between leishmanial antigens and ribonucleoproteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / biosynthesis*
  • Antigens, Nuclear
  • Autoantigens / immunology
  • Humans
  • Leishmaniasis / immunology*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / immunology
  • Nuclear Proteins / immunology
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear*
  • snRNP Core Proteins


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Antigens, Nuclear
  • Autoantigens
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nuclear
  • SS-A antibodies
  • SS-B antibodies
  • snRNP Core Proteins