A significant proportion of hemophilia A patients receiving transfusions of factor VIII (FVIII) develop a specific antibody response towards FVIII. These antibodies are usually detected by assays in which they inhibit the function of the molecule, such as the Bethesda clotting test. We have prepared anti-FVIII antibodies by specific immunoadsorption from the plasma of four hemophiliacs with stable inhibitor levels. The isotypic distribution of such antibodies was determined and their capacity to bind to insolubilized FVIII was compared with their inhibitory activity in two functional assays, namely, the Bethesda assay and a chromogenic assay. In addition, the FVIII epitope specificity was determined by competition with monoclonal antibodies for the binding to insolubilized FVIII. We show here that (1) anti-FVIII antibodies are not isotypically restricted; thus, a significant proportion of specific IgG2 was found; (2) antibodies are frequently directed towards epitopes of FVIII that are not directly involved in the function of the molecule and therefore escape detection in the Bethesda method or chromogenic assay; and (3) each patient shows a unique pattern of FVIII epitope recognition. We conclude that evaluation of anti-FVIII antibodies by a functional method does not provide an accurate evaluation of the specific antibody response. These findings have important implications for the comparison of the immunogenicity of FVIII molecules produced by different technologies and for the development of methods to control anti-FVIII antibody production.

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