Circulating FoxP3+ Regulatory T and Interleukin17-Producing Th17 Cells Actively Influence HBV Clearance in De Novo Hepatitis B Virus Infected Patients after Orthotopic Liver Transplantation

Gao, Yinjie; Zhang, Min; Li, Jin; Yang, Mei; Liu, Yuan; Guo, Xiaodong; Li, Hanwei; Liu, Zhenwen; Zhao, Jingmin
September 2015
PLoS ONE;9/14/2015, Vol. 10 Issue 9, p1
Academic Journal
Objective: To longitudinally investigate the role of FoxP3+ Regulatory T cells (Treg) and interleukin17-producing T helper 17 cells (Th17) in De Novo Hepatitis B Virus infection after orthotopic Liver Transplantation (DNHB-OLT), and analyze the possible correlation between these cells and HBV clearance of the disease. Methods: We enrolled 12 control cases after orthotopic Liver Transplantation (OLT) and 24 patients, including 12 diagnosed with DNHB-OLT and 12 diagnosed with Acute Hepatitis B Virus infection (AHB), into the study from the liver transplantation and research center at Beijing 302 Hospital. Flow cytometry was used to detect the frequencies of Treg and Th17, and ELISA was applied to detect the concentration of IL6, IL22, TGF-β and IL2 in peripheral blood. We also measured the gene expression level by real time-quantitative PCR and protein expression using immunohistochemistry and western-blot. Furthermore, we divided DNHB-OLT patients into the clearance and non-clearance groups and examined longitudinally Th17, Treg cells at different times. Results: The percentage of Treg cells, expression of FoxP3 mRNA and related anti-inflammatory cytokines such as IL2 and TGF-β1 in the DNHB-OLT group were significantly higher than that in the AHB and OLT groups. The percentage of Th17 cells, expression of RORγt mRNA and related pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL17 and IL22 in the DNHB-OLT group were significantly lower than that in the AHB group, but the levels of these cytokines are very similar to the OLT group. The ratios of Treg to Th17 in the DNHB-OLT group were significantly higher than that in the OLT and AHB groups. Treg frequencies significantly correlated with HBV DNA, whereas IL17 frequencies didn’t significantly correlate with ALT. In DNHB-OLT patients, the clearance group was accompanied by a rapid increase in the Th17 cells during the first 4th week and afterwards continuously decrease to the control group, together with a continuously decrease in Treg cells from the onset time point, which lead to a significant reduction in the ratios of Treg to Th17. The non-clearance group was accompanied by an increase in the Treg cells during the first 4th week and afterwards sharply decrease, together with a relatively stable and unchanged Th17 cells, which lead to a significant change in the ratios. In addition, compared to clearance group, the ratios of Treg to Th17 in non-clearance group were significantly higher at the onset point, 4th and 12th week, but no difference at 24th week. Conclusion: DNHB-OLT patients possessed a favorable Treg differentiation environment, accompanied by a sustained higher preferentially Treg frequencies and up-regulation of related anti-inflammatory cytokines. The immune imbalance of the ratios between Treg and Th17 existed in DNHB-OLT patients. The changes of the ratios during the DNHB-OLT events were associated with HBV clearance, which suppressed immune inflammation reaction as well as inhibited ability of specific HBV clearance and led to immune escape and chronicity.


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