Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology
Adolescent; Adult; Female; Hepatitis B; Hepatitis B virus; Humans; Interferon-gamma; Killer Cells, Natural; Male; Middle Aged; Natural Killer T-Cells; T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic; Young Adult
Immunology and Infectious Disease | Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences
BACKGROUND: The goal of this study is to observe changes in HBcAg-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), natural killer (NK) and natural killer T (NKT) cells from peripheral blood and to relate such changes on viral clearance and liver injury in patients with acute hepatitis B (AHB).
METHODS: Dynamic profiles on the frequency of HLA-A0201-restricted HBcAg18-27 pentamer complex (MHC-Pentamer)-specific CTLs and lymphocyte subsets in AHB patients were analyzed in addition to liver function tests, HBV serological markers, and HBV DNA levels. ELISPOT was used to detect interferon-gamma (INF-gamma) secretion in specific CTLs stimulated with known T cell epitope peptides associated with HBV surface protein, polymerase, and core protein.
RESULTS: HBV-specific CTL frequencies in AHB patients were much higher than in patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) (p
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with AHB possess a higher frequency of HBcAg-specific CTLs than CHB patients. The frequency of specific CTLs in AHB patients is correlated with HBeAg clearance indicating that HBV-specific CTLs play an important role in viral clearance and the self-limited process of the disease. Furthermore, NK and NKT cells are likely involved in the early, non-specific immune response to clear the virus.