Selective expansion of cytotoxic T lymphocytes with a CD4+CD56+ surface phenotype and a T helper type 1 profile of cytokine secretion in the liver of patients chronically infected with hepatitis B virus

Vincenzo Barnaba, Alessandra Franco, Marino Paroli, Rosalba Benvenuto, Guido De Petrillo, Vito L. Burgio, Isabella Santilio, Clara Balsano, Maria S. Bonavita, Giulia Cappelli, Vittorio Colizzi, Giovanna Cutrona, Manlio Ferrarini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Highly purified CD4+ T cells isolated from liver biopsies of patients with hepatitis B virus-induced CAH had a strong cytotoxic activity and were comprised of a substantial number of cells (25%-40%) expressing CD56 surface marker. These cells were absent in CD4+ T cells from the peripheral blood of CAH patients or normal controls and these suspensions did not have cytotoxic activity. CD4+CD56+ T cells were further characterized by studies at the clonal level. A total of 71 hepatitis B envelope antigen-specific CD4+ T cell clones was investigated (23 from liver biopsies, 48 from peripheral blood of patients or normal vaccinated individuals). A total of 16 out of 23 (69.5%) of the clones from liver biopsies, but only 4.1% (2 out of 48) of those from PBLs, expressed CD56. A clone was defined as CD56+ when 40% or more of the cells expressed the marker. Production of TNF-α, IL-4, IL-5, IL-2, and IFN-γ was investigated in 15 CD4+CD56+ and in 18 CD4+CD56- T cell clones, which shared the same HLA restriction element (DR2w15) and the same fine specificity (peptide 193-207 of the S region). All of the clones from the two groups released TNF-α and IL-2. However, all of the CD4+CD56+ T cell clones produced IFN-γ but not IL-4 and IL-5 (Th1-like cell clones). Fourteen of the CD4+CD56- clones released IFN-γ, IL-4, and IL-5 (Th0-like cell clones); three produced IL-4 and IL-5 but not IFN-γ (Th2-like cell clones); and only one had a Th1 cytokine secretion profile. Cell fractionating studies within single CD4+CD56+ T cell clones showed that cells expressing high density CD56 had a stronger cytotoxic activity and produced higher levels of IFN-γ than cells with low density CD56, thus further supporting a correlation between CD56 expression and cell functions. The results indicate that: 1) in CAH patients, cytotoxic CD4+ T cells with a Th1 cytokine secretion profile are compartmentalized in the liver, 2) these cells may be identified by the expression of CD56, 3) the expansion of these cells may be facilitated by antigenic stimulation within the inflammatory environment of the liver, and 4) CD4+CD56+ cells may play a pathogenetic role in hepatitis B virus infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3074-3087
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Immunology
Volume152
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 15 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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