BP180 (type XVII collagen) is a transmembrane protein expressed in a variety of cell types. It is also the target of autoantibodies in cutaneous autoimmune disease including bullous pemphigoid and pemphigoid gestationis, a disease unique to pregnancy. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and specificity of cutaneous autoantibodies in a cohort of pregnant women. De-identified sera were collected from pregnant women (n=299) and from non-pregnant controls (n=134). Sera were analyzed by ELISA for the presence of IgG and IgE autoantibodies directed against several cutaneous autoantigens. IgE antibodies against the NC16A domain of BP180 were detected in 7.7% of pregnant women, compared to 2.2% of healthy controls (p=0.01). No increase in total or cutaneous autoantigen specific IgG was seen. Total serum IgE was within the normal range. Full-length BP180 was detected by western immunoblot in epidermal, keratinocyte, placental and cytotrophoblast (CTB) cell lysates. Furthermore, flow cytometry and indirect immunofluorescence confirmed the expression of BP180 on the surface of cultured CTBs. Finally, it was demonstrated that IgE antibodies in the pregnancy sera labeled not only cultured CTBs, but also the placental amnion and cutaneous basement membrane zone using indirect immunofluorescence. We conclude that some pregnant women develop antibodies specific for BP180, and that these autoantibodies are capable of binding both CTB and the placental amnion, potentially affecting placental function.
- Type XVII collagen