Human factor VIII(FVIII) inhibitors are pathologic, circulating antibodies that inactivate FVIII. We have examined the location of epitopes on the FVIII protein for inhibitors from hemophilia A and nonhemophilic individuals. The inhibitors were of type I or type II in the kinetics of their inactivation of FVIII. A cDNA clone of human FVIII was used to express defined FVIII protein fragments in Escherichia coli for immunoblotting with inhibitor plasma. An epitope for 18 heavy-chain inhibitors was localized to the aminoterminal 18.3 Kd of the A2 domain. Two of these inhibitors also recognized an epitope located between A1 and A2 domains. Similarly, an epitope for 23 light- chain inhibitors was localized to the C2 domain. Weaker epitopes for 13 of the same inhibitors within the C1 and C2 domains were also observed. Four of the 23 inhibitors in addition bound strongly to the A3 domain. Most inhibitors (22 of 23) were neutralized in vitro only by the FVIII fragments to which they bound on immunoblots; however, one inhibitor that was neutralized by a fragment containing the A1 domain did not bind to it on immunoblots. Conversely, 3 of 3 inhibitors that bound to the A3 domain and 5 of 15 that bound to the A2 domain were not neutralized by the corresponding fragments. The epitope specificity of an inhibitor did not depend on its source or type. Our results show that FVIII inhibitors bind to limited areas within the heavy and light chains of FVIII. Some inhibitor plasmas contain additional antibodies that may not be inhibitory.

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