Activation of the immune system and coronary artery disease: The role of anti-endothelial cell antibodies

Alessandro Farsi, Maria Paola Domeneghetti, Tamara Brunelli, Anna Maria Gori, Sandra Fedi, Gian Franco Gensini, Cristina Giglioli, Domenico Prisco, Angelo Passaleva, Pier Luigi Meroni, Nicoletta Del Papa, Rosanna Abbate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On the basis of the role of immuno-mediated inflammation in atherosclerosis we investigated, (1) the prevalence of anti-endothelial cell antibodies (AECA) in ischaemic heart disease (IHD); (2) if β2-glycoprotein I (β2-GPI) was the target antigen of AECA; (3) the relationship between AECA, tissue factor (TF) and tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI). In 93 consecutive IHD patients undergoing percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) and 105 controls AECA were detected by ELISA on human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). AECA positive sera were evaluated for anti-β2-GPI antibodies by ELISA. TF and TFPI plasma levels were assessed by ELISA. Twelve of 93 (12.9%) IHD patients and only one of 105 controls (0.95%) were AECA positive. The prevalence of AECA was higher in unstable angina (UA) than in effort angina (EA) (P = 0.01). Three of 12 AECA positive sera resulted positive for anti-β2-GPI and showed a marked decrease in EC-binding when tested on HUVEC cultured in serum-free medium. The binding was restored by the addition of β2-GPI. TF and TFPI levels were similar in AECA positive and AECA negative patients. The rate of angiographically documented clinical recurrences was 66.7% in the AECA positive and 14.8% in the AECA negative group (P = 0.0004) with a significant relationship between restenosis and AECA (P <0.0001), unchanged by the inclusion of cardiovascular risk factors in the regression model. Our results suggest a 'role' for AECA in the immune-mediated inflammation in UA β2-GPI is not the only AECA target antigen. AECA are not responsible for high TF and TFPI levels. The high rate of clinical recurrences after PTCA, confirmed by angiography, in AECA positive patients is in line with such a role and suggests further large-scale 'ad hoc' studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-436
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Anti-endothelial cell antibodies
  • Ischaemic heart disease
  • Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty
  • Restenosis
  • Unstable angina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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