Lack of Siglec-7 expression identifies a dysfunctional natural killer cell subset associated with liver inflammation and fibrosis in chronic HCV infection

Stefania Varchetta, Dalila Mele, Andrea Lombardi, Barbara Oliviero, Stefania Mantovani, Carmine Tinelli, Marta Spreafico, Daniele Prati, Serena Ludovisi, Giovanna Ferraioli, Carlo Filice, Alessio Aghemo, Pietro Lampertico, Floriana Facchetti, Francesca Bernuzzi, Pietro Invernizzi, Mario U. Mondelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Sialic-acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin-7 (Siglec-7) is a natural killer (NK) cell inhibitory receptor associated with NK phenotypic and functional abnormalities in HIV-1 infection. We investigated the significance of NK-expressed and serum soluble Siglec-7 in relation to NK functional ability and parameters of liver necroinflammation and fibrosis in chronic HCV infection. Design: NK-expressed and serum Siglec-7 were evaluated in 130 and 166 HCV-infected individuals by flow cytometry and ELISA, respectively. NK cell degranulation and cytokine secretion were determined by flow cytometry. 65 patients with chronic HBV infection, 84 with chronic biliary disorders and 168 healthy donors served as controls. Results: Expression of Siglec-7 was significantly decreased on NK cells from HCV-infected and HBV-infected patients and, conversely, serum Siglec-7 was significantly increased in these patients compared with controls. The frequency of Siglec-7pos NK cells was significantly higher at baseline in sustained virological responders to pegylated interferon-α/ribavirin treatment than in non-responders. Activating receptor expression was significantly higher in Siglec-7pos NK cells and was associated with increased degranulation and cytokine secretion compared with Siglec-7neg cells. In chronic HCV infection, there was an inverse correlation between Siglec-7 expression and serum aminotransferases, γ-glutamyl transpeptidase, liver stiffness, aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index and fibrosis-4 scores, and a positive correlation between serum Siglec-7 and the same clinical parameters, including histological staging. Conclusions: These findings identify Siglec-7neg NK cells as a dysfunctional subpopulation associated with severe liver disease in chronic HCV infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1998-2006
Number of pages9
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016



ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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