Peripheral blood monocyte and lymphocyte receptors for Fc and C3b fragments were examined in vitro in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases using sheep red blood cells coated with anti-SRBC IgG1 (to detect Fc receptors) and with anti-SRBC IgM and complement (to detect C3b receptors). The number of C3b receptors detected on 100 monocytes was significantly lower in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (23.0 +/- 12.0, mean +/- 1 SD) compared with normal controls (57.4 +/- 16.9) and other chronic liver disease (HBsAg negative chronic active hepatitis 62.0 +/- 17.0, alcoholic cirrhosis 50.9 +/- 4.0), while the number of Fc receptors detected on 100 monocytes was not significantly different in all the groups (primary biliary cirrhosis 72.8 +/- 28.6, chronic active hepatitis 74.7 +/- 14.0, alcoholic cirrhosis 58.0 +/- 13.5 and normal controls 69.6 +/- 19.9). When mononuclear cells isolated from normal individuals were pre-incubated with serum from patients with primary biliary cirrhosis before testing their receptor function there was a significant reduction in the number of C3b receptors detected per 100 monocytes (27.6 +/- 10.8) compared with pre-incubation with normal serum (72.0 +/- 18.0). This reduction in C3b-receptor function was again observed when the serum used for pre-incubation was depleted of circulating immune complexes; but when complement was further depleted from these sera, the number of C3b-receptors detected after pre-incubation was similar to normal values (64.0 +/- 11.8). Lymphocyte receptors showed a similar pattern of results. This implies a specific C3b receptor blockade on monocytes and lymphocytes from patients with primary biliary cirrhosis which appears to be because of blocking by serum factor(s) including complement fragments.
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