The antiperinuclear factor, an autoantibody specific for rheumatoid arthritis, was found in 51/63 (81%) patients with rheumatoid arthritis by indirect immunofluorescence on human buccal mucosa cells. The sensitivity of the antiperinuclear factor test was increased by pretreating the buccal mucosa cells with 0.5% Triton-X100. The specificity of the test for rheumatoid arthritis as compared with control serum samples was maintained. The localisation of the perinuclear factor in the keratohyalin granules of the buccal mucosa cells was verified by immunoelectron microscopy. The perinuclear factor was found to be an insoluble protein whose antigenicity was sensitive to various fixation procedures. In serum samples from patients with rheumatoid arthritis there was a positive correlation between the presence of antiperinuclear factor and the presence of the so called antikeratin antibodies as detected by immunofluorescence on unfixed rat oesophagus cryostat sections. No relation was found between the presence of the perinuclear factor and either the rheumatoid factor, Epstein-Barr virus components, or any cytokeratin. By double immunofluorescence an exact colocalisation of the perinuclear factor and profilaggrin was found. Although the precise biochemical identity of the perinuclear factor remains unclear, our results suggest that it is a protein only present in the fully differentiated squamous epithelial cell layer.
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