We recently showed that when rats were administered the inhalation anesthetic halothane, a 58 kDa liver endoplasmic reticulum protein became covalently trifluoroacetylated by the trifluoroacetyl chloride metabolite of halothane. Although the 58 kDa protein showed 99% identity to that of the deduced amino acid sequence of a cDNA reported to correspond to phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C-α, it did not have phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C activity. It was concluded that the reported cDNA of phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C-α actually encoded for the 58 kDa endoplasmic reticulum protein of unknown function. Other researchers have come to the same conclusion and have shown that the 58 kDa protein has protein disulfide-isomerase and protease activities. We now report that patients with halothane hepatitis have serum antibodies that react with both purified trifluoroacetylated and native rat liver 58 kDa proteins. These results suggest that when patients are exposed to halothane a human liver orthologue of the rat liver trifluoroacetylated-58 kDa protein is formed. In certain patients, this protein may become immunogenic and lead to the formation of specific antibodies and or specific T-cells, which may react with both trifluoroacetylated and native 58 kDa proteins, and ultimately be responsible, at least in part, for the hepatitis caused by halothane.
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