Phenotypical and functional alterations of CD8 regulatory T cells in primary biliary cirrhosis

Francesca Bernuzzi, Daniela Fenoglio, Florinda Battaglia, Marco Fravega, M. Eric Gershwin, Francesco Indiveri, Aftab A. Ansari, Mauro Podda, Pietro Invernizzi, Gilberto Filaci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mechanisms that lead to loss of tolerance in autoimmune disease have remained both elusive and diverse, including both genetic predisposition and generic dysregulation of critical mononuclear cell subsets. In primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), patients exhibit a multilineage response to the E2 component of pyruvate dehydrogenase involving antibody as well as autoreactive CD4 and CD8 responses. Recent data from murine models of PBC have suggested that a critical mechanism of biliary destruction is mediated by liver-infiltrating CD8 cells. Further, the number of autoreactive liver-infiltrating CD4 and CD8 cells is significantly higher in liver than blood in patients with PBC. Based on this data, we have studied the frequencies and phenotypic characterization of both CD4 and CD8 regulatory T cell components in both patients with PBC and age-sex matched controls. Our data is striking and indicate that CD8 Treg populations from PBC patients, but not controls, have significant phenotypic alterations, including increased expression of CD127 and reduced CD39. Furthermore, in vitro induction of CD8 Tregs by incubation with IL10 is significantly reduced in PBC patients. Importantly, the frequencies of circulating CD4+CD25+ and CD8+ and CD28- T cell subpopulations are not significantly different between patients and controls. In conclusion, these data identify the CD8 Treg subset as a regulatory T cell subpopulation altered in patients with PBC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-180
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Autoimmunity
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • Autoimmune cholangitis CD8 T regulatory cells
  • CD39
  • IL7-R

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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