Background & Aims: Using high-density human recombinant protein microarrays, we identified two potential biomarkers, kelch-like 12 (KLHL12) and hexokinase-1 (HK1), in primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). The objective of this study was to determine the diagnostic value of anti-KLHL12/HK1 autoantibodies in PBC. Initial discovery used sera from 22 patients with PBC and 62 non-PBC controls. KLHL12 and HK1 proteins were then analysed for immunoglobulin reactivity by immunoblot and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in two independent cohorts of PBC and disease/healthy control patients. Methods: Serum samples from 100 patients with PBC and 165 non-PBC disease controls were analysed by immunoblot and samples from 366 patients with PBC, 174 disease controls, and 80 healthy donors were tested by ELISA. Results: Anti-KLHL12 and anti-HK1 antibodies were each detected more frequently in PBC compared with non-PBC disease controls (P < 0.001). Not only are both markers highly specific for PBC (≥95%) but they also yielded higher sensitivity than anti-gp210 and anti-sp100 antibodies. Combining anti-HK1 and anti-KLHL12 with available markers (MIT3, gp210 and sp100), increased the diagnostic sensitivity for PBC. Most importantly, anti-KLHL12 and anti-HK1 antibodies were present in 10-35% of anti-mitochondrial antibody (AMA)-negative PBC patients and adding these two biomarkers to conventional PBC assays dramatically improved the serological sensitivity in AMA-negative PBC from 55% to 75% in immunoblot and 48.3% to 68.5% in ELISA. Conclusions: The addition of tests for highly specific anti-KLHL12 and anti-HK1 antibodies to AMA and ANA serological assays significantly improves efficacy in the clinical detection and diagnosis of PBC, especially for AMA-negative subjects.
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