Anti-neutrophil antibodies have been described in a variety of clinical conditions associated with neutropenia. However, relatively little is known about the antigenic specificities of naturally occurring anti- neutrophil autoantibodies. We investigated the possibility that anti- neutrophil antibodies specific for the neutrophil adhesion glycoprotein (GP) complex CD11b/CD18 might be present in the sera of some patients with autoimmune neutropenia. These membrane GPs have been shown to be highly immunogenic in the production of murine monoclonal antibodies against neutrophil antigens. Moreover, autoantibodies to the platelet membrane GP complex IIb/IIIa, another member of the integrin family of cell adhesion proteins, have been demonstrated in immune thrombocytopenic purpura. Sera from 50 patients known to have anti- neutrophil IgG antibodies were evaluated using an immunobead “antigen capture” assay, modeled after a method used to identify anti-platelet GPIIb/IIIa autoantibodies. This assay detected anti-CD11b/CD18 autoantibodies in seven of the 50 sera. Each of these seven sera demonstrated decreased IgG binding to the neutrophils of a patient with congenital deficiency of CD11b/CD18. The patient with the highest levels of anti-CD11b/CD18 suffered recurrent skin infections and cellulitis, and died of respiratory failure during one of multiple episodes of pneumonia. Purified IgGs from five of these patients demonstrated effects on adhesion and/or opsonin receptor-mediated functions when tested with intact neutrophils in vitro. Our findings indicate that some patients with autoimmune neutropenia have autoantibodies specific for the functionally important neutrophil adhesion proteins CD11b/CD18. Our findings also raise the possibility that these autoantibodies may, in some cases, interfere with neutrophil function, thereby amplifying the risk of infection associated with neutropenia.

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