Dynamics of intra-hepatic lymphocytes in chronic hepatitis C: Enrichment for Vα24+ T cells and rapid elimination of effector cells by apoptosis

Sandra Nuti, Domenico Rosa, Nicholas M. Valiante, Giulietta Saletti, Marcello Caratozzolo, Paolo Dellabona, Vincenzo Barnaba, Sergio Abrignani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Chronic viral hepatitis is characterized by a dramatic lymphocyte infiltrate in the liver. Although it is one of the most common chronic inflammatory diseases in humans, little information is available on the functional state of these intra-hepatic lymphocytes (IHL). To address this issue, we have optimized cytofluorimetric techniques to assess directly ex vivo the functions, dynamics and repertoires of IHL isolated from biopsies of patients with chronic hepatitis C. We estimate that 1% of the total body lymphocytes infiltrate the inflamed liver and find that, at variance with peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) isolated from the same patients, most IHL display an activated phenotype and produce Th1 type lymphokines when stimulated in vitro. Virtually all IHL are found in the G0/G1 state of the cell cycle, while a sizeable percentage of them is undergoing programmed cell death in vivo, as detected by the TUNEL assay performed on freshly isolated cells. In contrast again to PBL from the same patients, IHL show a preferential compartmentalization of NK and TCRγ/δ+ cells, and a remarkable (up to 20-fold) enrichment for Vα24+ T cells. Together our data suggest that in a liver injured by chronic hepatitis C, most IHL are pro-inflammatory activated cells which are highly enriched for effecters of innate resistance. These IHL do not undergo clonal expansion in the liver but rather display effector function and die in situ at a high rate, suggesting that maintenance of the IHL pool is dependent on continuous migration from extra-hepatic sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3448-3455
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Volume28
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1998

Keywords

  • Apoptosis
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Hepatitis C
  • Intra-hepatic lymphocyte
  • Vα24 T cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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