Suppressive activity and altered conventional phenotype markers/mediators of regulatory T cells in patients with self-limiting hepatitis E


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Abstract

SUMMARY.Hepatitis E virus (HEV) is a major cause of self-limiting acute viral hepatitis in several developing countries. Elevated levels of peripheral CD4+CD25+Foxp3+, CD4+CD25Foxp3+ and rise in IL-10 in hepatitis E have been associated with the involvement of regulatory T cells (Treg). The functional role of the same is yet elusive. In the current study, we have assessed (i) Foxp3 expression by real-time PCR and by flow cytometry, (ii) the levels of antigen-specific IL-10 and TGF-β by ELISA, (iii) functional analysis of Treg cells and (iv) expression of Treg-associated conventional phenotypes by flow cytometry in 54 acute patients, 44 recovered individuals from hepatitis E and in 33 healthy controls. Foxp3 mRNA elevation in the acute compared with recovered group and elevation in Foxp3+ cells in both patient groups were significantly elevated. The levels of IL-10 and TGF-β in the acute patients and TGF-β in the recovered individuals were elevated. Significantly higher expression of CTLA-4, PD1, GITR, CD95, CD103 and CD73 on Treg and T effector (Teff) cells was detected in the patient groups. Treg cells of acute patients and recovered individuals exhibited suppressive activity indicating that the Treg cells of hepatitis E patients are functional. The suppressive capacity of Treg cells in acute hepatitis E patients was significantly higher compared with the recovered individuals. Based on our findings, the suppressive functionality of these key markers associated with hepatitis E Treg function need further exploration to get a better understanding of the mechanisms of Treg-mediated suppression.

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