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Bovine Serum Albumin Linked to Membranous Nephropathy

Some patients with childhood membranous nephropathy have circulating bovine serum albumin and anti-bovine serum antibodies, which co-localize to form immune deposits, according to a study published in the June 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

June 2, 2011 -- Hanna Debiec, Ph.D., from Tenon Hospital in Paris, and colleagues investigated the nature of anti-bovine serum antibodies in 50 patients with membranous nephropathy and 172 controls. Circulating bovine serum albumin and antibodies against it were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and Western blotting, and properties of the immunopurified bovine serum albumin were analyzed with two-dimensional electrophoresis. Bovine serum albumin was detected in glomerular deposits, and the reactivity of eluted immunoglobulin-G (IgG) was analyzed.

The investigators identified 11 patients, including four children, with high levels of circulating IgG1 and IgG4 anti-bovine serum albumin antibodies, who also had increased levels of bovine serum albumin, without an increase in the levels of circulating immune complexes. The pH of bovine immunopurified serum albumin from these children was in the basic range, and from the adults, it was in neutral regions as the native form. Children with high levels of both bovine serum albumin and its antibodies had bovine serum albumin in the subepithelial immune deposits, which localized along with bovine serum albumin-specific IgG, in the absence of M-type phospholipase A2 receptor.

"Some patients with childhood membranous nephropathy have both circulating cationic bovine serum albumin and anti-bovine serum albumin antibodies. Bovine serum albumin is present in immune deposits," the authors write.

Several study authors disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies. The editorial author disclosed a financial relationship with Questcor.

Source: HealthDay News