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CD4⁺ and CD8⁺ regulatory T cells (Tregs) are elevated and display an active phenotype in patients with chronic HCV mono-infection and HIV/HCV co-infection

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The aim of this study was to examine regulatory T cells (Tregs) in peripheral blood and liver tissue in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) mono-infection and in patients with HIV/HCV co-infection. In a cross-sectional study were included 51 patients with chronic HCV infection, 24 patients with HIV/HCV co-infection and 24 healthy individuals. CD4⁺ and CD8⁺ Tregs were determined using flow cytometry. Fibrosis was examined by transient elastography. Inflammation, fibrosis and Tregs were determined in liver biopsies from 12 patients. Increased frequency of CD4⁺ and CD8⁺ Tregs was found in HIV/HCV co-infected patients [median: 6.4% (IQR: 5.7-6.9) and 1.0% (0.7-1.2), respectively] compared to HCV mono-infected patients [5.6% (4.2-6.3), P = 0.01 and 0.5% (0.3-0.7), P <0.001, respectively]. Furthermore, HCV mono-infected patients had increased frequencies of Tregs compared with healthy controls (P <0.05). However, no associations between the frequency of Tregs and fibrosis were found. Furthermore, characterization of CD4⁺ Tregs using CD45RA demonstrated a higher frequency of activated Tregs in both HCV mono-infected and HIV/HCV co-infected patients compared with healthy controls. Finally, number of intrahepatic Tregs was associated with both peripheral CD8⁺ Tregs and intrahepatic inflammation. In conclusion, HCV mono-infected patients and particularly HIV/HCV co-infected patients have increased the frequency of CD4⁺ and CD8⁺ Tregs compared with healthy controls. Furthermore, CD4⁺ Tregs in infected patients displayed an active phenotype. Tregs were not associated with fibrosis, but a positive correlation between intrahepatic Tregs and inflammation was found. Taken together, these results suggest a role for Tregs in the pathogenesis of chronic HCV infection.
TidsskriftScandinavian Journal of Immunology
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)294-305
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - 2012

ID: 36440753