Antibodies to mature blood neutrophils and to bone marrow myeloid cells have been described in the sera of some patients with apparent autoimmune neutropenia. To further explore the prevalence and specificities of antibodies to myeloid precursor cells, we evaluated sera from 148 patients with suspected autoimmune neutropenia for the presence of antibodies to neutrophils, to cultured myeloid cell lines, and to highly purified bone marrow myeloid progenitor cells. Using an immunofluorescence flow cytometric assay, we identified IgG antibodies in 42 (28%) of these sera that bound specifically to K562 cells, a multilineage cell line originally derived from a patient with chronic myelogenous leukemia. Twenty-two (15%) of the sera also contained IgG antibodies that bound specifically to the primitive myelomonocytic leukemia cell line KG1a. Twenty-five (17%) of the sera had IgG antibodies to myeloid cell lines in the absence of antibodies to mature neutrophils. There was a trend toward more severe neutropenia in patients with antibodies to K562 cells, without antineutrophil antibodies. In further studies, antibodies from 12 sera bound to mononuclear CD34+ cells that had been purified from normal human bone marrow by an immunomagnetic separation procedure. Moreover, two of these sera suppressed the growth of granulocyte-macrophage colony- forming units (CFU-GM) in methylcellulose cultures. The presence of antibodies to primitive hematopoietic cells in the sera of some patients with suspected immune neutropenia suggests that these antibodies may have a role in the pathogenesis of the neutropenia observed.

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