Autoimmune Hepatitis and Autoimmune Hepatitis Overlap With Sclerosing Cholangitis: Immunophenotype Markers in Children and Adolescents

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Abstract

Objective:

The pathophysiology of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) may involve the activation of immune cells and changes in the expression of cellular markers. The aim of the present study was to characterize the immunophenotype markers of lymphocytes and monocytes in the peripheral blood of children and adolescents with type 1 AIH and AIH overlap with sclerosing cholangitis (overlap syndrome [OS]).

Methods:

This is a cross-sectional study of 20 children and adolescents diagnosed with type 1 AIH and 19 with OS. Fifteen healthy subjects were included as controls. Flow cytometric analysis was used to identify markers of inflammation and autoimmunity.

Results:

The total number of CD4+ T cells was higher in the AIH patients compared with the controls. The number of CD4+ T cells expressing CCR3 and CD28 was higher in the AIH group than in the control group. CD45RO was more highly expressed in the AIH group, whereas CD45RA was more highly expressed in the OS group. In regard to CD8+ T lymphocytes, the CCR3 expression was higher in both groups of patients. Patients with OS had the highest expression of CD45RA and CD25. In monocytes, human leukocyte antigen DR (HLA-DR) was less expressed in both groups of patients.

Conclusions:

Complex phenotype features may be involved in the pathophysiology of AIH, accounting for changes in immune system regulation mechanisms. In conclusion, even after good response to treatment, patients still have immune activity signals at the cellular level.

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