Antiendothelial cell antibodies (AECA) have been detected in the sera of patients of autoimmune diseases showing vasculitis. Using IgM-ELISA, we found AECA in 42 (56%) of 75 sera samples from patients with Behçet's disease in a previous study. All of the 15 AECA-positive sera of Behçet's disease patients had an increased expression of the intercellular cell adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), 93.3% of the sera induced the vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), and 100% of the serum induced the E-selectin molecule on human dermal microvascular endothelial cells (HDMEC). After stimulation of HDMEC with AECA-positive sera of Behçet's disease patients, the expression of ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 on HDMEC increased significantly at 4 hours, reaching a peak at 16 hours. Expression of E-selectin was induced at 1 hour after stimulation with a peak at 4 hours and it decreased thereafter. Adherence of T lymphocytes to HDMEC increased significantly after stimulation with AECA-positive sera from Behçet's disease patients. Also, the adherence of T lymphocytes to HDMEC increased at 4 hours and returned to its normal level at 48 hours. These results show that AECA-positive sera of Behçet's disease patients are capable of activating HDMEC to promote the adherence of T lymphocytes to increase the expression of ICAM-1, VCAM-1, and E-selectin on the cell surfaces. The whole process may play an important role in the pathogenesis of vasculitis in Behçet's disease.
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