Characterization and role of intra-hepatic regulatory T cells in chronic hepatitis C pathogenesis.: Regulatory T cells in chronic hepatitis C

Abstract : BACKGROUND & AIMS: In chronic hepatitis C (CHC), HCV-specific T-cell responses are often dysfunctionnal. In vitro data point out that regulatory T cells (Treg) are able to suppress HCV-specific lymphocyte proliferation and cytokine secretion but their implication in this pathology is still debated. METHODS: Three complementary approaches were performed to investigate phenotype, frequency or localization of intra-hepatic Treg in treatment naïve CHC patients. Double immunohistochemical analysis was performed in 20 formalin-fixed biopsies with CD8/FoxP3 and CD4/FoxP3 antibodies. Cellular markers and cytokines were investigated by quantitative RT-PCR in 27 additional frozen biopsies. Eight other fresh liver biopsies were selected for complementary analysis of immunophenotyping and frequency of intra-hepatic Treg. RESULTS: Immunohistochemical analyses showed the presence of intra-hepatic CD4(+)FoxP3(+)T cells while CD8(+)FoxP3(+)T cells were very scarce. CD4(+)FoxP3(+)T cells were located in necro-inflammatory areas in contact with CD8(+)T cells, suggesting that Treg-mediated inhibition of CD8(+)T cell proliferation may occur by cell-cell contact. RT-PCR analyses showed strong correlations between CD8, FoxP3, and IL-10 with emergence of four distinct gene clusters, CD8-FoxP3, CD8-IL-10, TGF-beta-IL-10, and TNF-alpha-TGF-beta. No correlation was found between serum viral load and any immune markers. Interestingly, the FoxP3(+)/CD8(+) cells ratio significantly decreased in severe fibrosis (F>3) due to the dramatic decline of FoxP3 cells. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides new insights into the histological localization of Treg within HCV-infected liver, with a special accumulation of CD4(+)FoxP3(+)Treg cells in necro-inflammatory areas, in contact with CD8(+)T cells. Our results suggest a link between Treg, CD8, and IL-10 which altogether could balance immune responses against the virus to avoid immunopathogenesis.
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Journal of Hepatology, Elsevier, 2010, 53 (1), pp.25-35. 〈10.1016/j.jhep.2010.02.024〉
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Nathalie Sturm, Marie-Ange Thélu, Xavier Camous, Guéorgui Dimitrov, Muhammad Ramzan, et al.. Characterization and role of intra-hepatic regulatory T cells in chronic hepatitis C pathogenesis.: Regulatory T cells in chronic hepatitis C. Journal of Hepatology, Elsevier, 2010, 53 (1), pp.25-35. 〈10.1016/j.jhep.2010.02.024〉. 〈inserm-00509310〉

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