Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Hepatitis C virus infection is a major cause of chronic liver disease. CD4(+) T cells play a key role in disease outcome. However, the critical functions and associated phenotypes of intrahepatic CD4(+) T cells are not well defined. We have previously shown that CD8(+) T cells expressing the C type lectin CD161 are highly enriched in the human liver, especially during chronic hepatitis. These cells are associated with a type 17 differentiation pattern and express cytokines including IL-17A, IL-22, and IFN-γ. We therefore analyzed expression of CD161 on CD4(+) T cells in blood and liver and addressed the relevant phenotype and functional capacity of these populations. We observed marked enrichment of CD161(+)CD4(+) T cells in the liver during chronic hepatitis such that they are the dominant subtype (mean 55% of CD4(+) T cells). IL-22 and IL-17 secreting CD4(+) T cells were readily found in the livers of HCV(+) and NASH donors, although not enriched compared to blood. There was, however, specific enrichment of a novel subset of IL-22/IFN-γ dual secretors (p = 0.02) compared to blood, a result reconfirmed with direct ex vivo analyses. These data indicate the dominance of CD161(+) expressing lymphocyte populations within the hepatic infiltrate, associated with a distinct cytokine profile. Given their documented roles as antiviral and hepatoprotective cytokines respectively, the impact of co-secretion of IFN-γ and IL-22 in the liver may be particularly significant.

Original publication

DOI

10.3389/fimmu.2012.00346

Type

Journal article

Journal

Front Immunol

Publication Date

2012

Volume

3

Keywords

CD161, CD4+ T cell, HCV, IL-22, hepatic inflammation