1. A role has been suggested for anti-Tamm–Horsfall protein (THP) antibodies in renal disease based on the results of immunoassays of pathological sera. The putative autoantibodies have not been isolated from such sera nor have definitive inhibition studies of their binding been carried out. We have carried out such studies using rabbit anti-THP antibodies as control reagents.
2. Urinary THP prepared by salt precipitation was used to prepare four immunoabsorbent columns by covalent coupling to CNBr-activated Sepharose 4B. After washing with a variety of dissociating agents to remove any non-covalently bound subunit THP, each column was incubated with normal and immune rabbit serum. Fractions washed and eluted from columns were tested for anti-THP antibodies by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and THP antigen by radioimmunoassay, and showed NH4SCN (3 mol/l) and guanidine hydrochloride (GuHCl) (6 mol/l) equivalent and sodium dodecyl sulphate (20 g/l) to be inferior in their capacity to produce immunoabsorbent THP capable of isolating specific antibodies from immune rabbit serum.
3. The column treated with GuHCl (6 mol/l) was used further in attempts to isolate putative anti-THP antibodies from five patients, who had a history of urinary tract infections and whose sera showed strong binding by ELISA.
4. Results from direct and inhibition ELISA experiments on fractions collected after washing and elution with all sera suggested that the putative human anti-THP antibodies were of very low affinity and/or directed against non-subunit THP.
5. The pathological relevance of human anti-THP antibodies measured by ELISA remains to be established.