The presence of immunoglobulins (Ig) G, A, and M and of complement fractions (C3-C4) on the liver cell surface was investigated by direct immunofluorescence in 40 patients with alcoholic liver disease. IgG was detected on the liver cell membrane with a linear staining pattern in 29 patients. The percentage of IgG-positive hepatocytes correlated with transaminase activities, independently of the histological findings. IgA was demonstrable with a coarse granular staining pattern in 11 of the 14 cases with established cirrhosis. The finding of IgG bound to the hepatocyte surface in patients with alcohol-induced liver damage suggests that alcohol could be responsible for antigenic modifications of hepatocyte membrane with consequent triggering of a humoral immune response.
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