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1.  Autoimmune liver disease - are there spectra that we do not know? 
Autoimmune liver diseases (AILDs) are common leading causes for liver cirrhosis and terminal stage of liver disease. They have variable prevalence among patients with liver disease and have two major clinical and biochemical presentations. Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) is the typical example of hepatocellular AILD, but it can also be presented under a cholestatic pattern. AIH has a scoring diagnostic system and respond in most cases to the treatment with prednisolone and azathioprine. Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is the second most common AILD, with a cholestatic presentation and characterized by positive antimitochondrial antibody (AMA). It has an excellent response and long term outcome with the administration of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA). Another AILD that is thought to be a variant of PBC is the autoimmune cholangitis, being a disease that has biochemical and histological features similar to PBC; but the AMA is negative. Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a rare entity of AILD that has a cholestatic presentation and respond poorly to the treatment, with the ultimate progression to advance liver cirrhosis in most patients. Other forms of AILD include the overlap syndromes (OS), which are diseases with mixed immunological and histological patterns of two AILD; the most commonly recognized one is AIH-PBC overlap (AIH-PSC overlap is less common). The treatment of OS involves the trial of UDCA and different immunosuppressants. Here we present three case reports of unusual forms of chronic liver diseases that most likely represent AILD. The first two patients had a cholestatic picture, whereas the third one had a hepatocellular picture at presentation. We discussed their biochemical, immunological and histological features as well as their response to treatment and their outcomes. Then, we compared them with other forms of AILD.
PMCID: PMC3179434  PMID: 21910861
Autoimmune liver disease; autoimmune hepatitis; primary biliary cirrhosis; primary sclerosing cholangitis; autoimmune cholangitis; cholestasis; hepatocellular; ursodeoxycholic acid
2.  Autoimmune liver serology: Current diagnostic and clinical challenges 
Liver-related autoantibodies are crucial for the correct diagnosis and classification of autoimmune liver diseases (AiLD), namely autoimmune hepatitis types 1 and 2 (AIH-1 and 2), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), and the sclerosing cholangitis variants in adults and children. AIH-1 is specified by anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) and smooth muscle antibody (SMA). AIH-2 is specified by antibody to liver kidney microsomal antigen type-1 (anti-LKM1) and anti-liver cytosol type 1 (anti-LC1). SMA, ANA and anti-LKM antibodies can be present in de-novo AIH following liver transplantation. PBC is specified by antimitochondrial antibodies (AMA) reacting with enzymes of the 2-oxo-acid dehydrogenase complexes (chiefly pyruvate dehydrogenase complex E2 subunit) and disease-specific ANA mainly reacting with nuclear pore gp210 and nuclear body sp100. Sclerosing cholangitis presents as at least two variants, first the classical primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) mostly affecting adult men wherein the only (and non-specific) reactivity is an atypical perinuclear antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (p-ANCA), also termed perinuclear anti-neutrophil nuclear antibodies (p-ANNA) and second the childhood disease called autoimmune sclerosing cholangitis (ASC) with serological features resembling those of type 1 AIH. Liver diagnostic serology is a fast-expanding area of investigation as new purified and recombinant autoantigens, and automated technologies such as ELISAs and bead assays, become available to complement (or even compete with) traditional immunofluorescence procedures. We survey for the first time global trends in quality assurance impacting as it does on (1) manufacturers/purveyors of kits and reagents, (2) diagnostic service laboratories that fulfill clinicians’ requirements, and (3) the end-user, the physician providing patient care, who must properly interpret test results in the overall clinical context.
PMCID: PMC2716592  PMID: 18528935
Autoantigen; Autoimmune hepatitis; Autoantibody; Primary biliary cirrhosis; Primary sclerosing cholangitis; Liver disease
3.  Genetic susceptibility to autoimmune liver disease 
Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) are considered as putative autoimmune diseases of the liver. Whereas strong evidence that bacterial infection may trigger PBC exists, the etiologies for PSC and AIH remain unknown. Although there have been significant discoveries of genetic polymorphisms that may underlie the susceptibility to these liver diseases, their associations with environmental triggers and the subsequent implications have been difficult to elucidate. While single nucleotide polymorphisms within the negative costimulatory molecule cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) have been suggested as genetic susceptibility factors for all three disorders, we discuss the implications of CTLA-4 susceptibility alleles mainly in the context of PBC, where Novosphingobium aromaticivorans, an ubiquitous alphaproteobacterium, has recently been specifically associated with the pathogenesis of this devastating liver disease. Ultimately, the discovery of infectious triggers of PBC may expand the concept of genetic susceptibility in immune-mediated liver diseases from the concept of aberrant immune responses against self-antigens to insufficient and/or inappropriate immunological defense mechanisms allowing microbes to cross natural barriers, establish infection and damage respective target organs.
PMCID: PMC3035697  PMID: 21307981
Primary biliary cirrhosis; Novosphingobium; Natural killer T cells, Cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4; Diabetes; Susceptibility loci; Non-obese diabetic congenic mice
4.  Overlap syndromes among autoimmune liver diseases 
The three major immune disorders of the liver are autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). Variant forms of these diseases are generally called overlap syndromes, although there has been no standardized definition. Patients with overlap syndromes present with both hepatitic and cholestatic serum liver tests and have histological features of AIH and PBC or PSC. The AIH-PBC overlap syndrome is the most common form, affecting almost 10% of adults with AIH or PBC. Single cases of AIH and autoimmune cholangitis (AMA-negative PBC) overlap syndrome have also been reported. The AIH-PSC overlap syndrome is predominantly found in children, adolescents and young adults with AIH or PSC. Interestingly, transitions from one autoimmune to another have also been reported in a minority of patients, especially transitions from PBC to AIH-PBC overlap syndrome. Overlap syndromes show a progressive course towards liver cirrhosis and liver failure without treatment. Therapy for overlap syndromes is empiric, since controlled trials are not available in these rare disorders. Anticholestatic therapy with ursodeoxycholic acid is usually combined with immunosuppressive therapy with corticosteroids and/or azathioprine in both AIH-PBC and AIH-PSC overlap syndromes. In end-stage disease, liver transplantation is the treatment of choice.
PMCID: PMC2716591  PMID: 18528934
Autoimmune hepatitis; Immunosuppressive agents; Primary biliary cirrhosis; Primary sclerosing cholangitis; Ursodeoxycholic acid
5.  CD8+ T-Cell Deficiency, Epstein-Barr Virus Infection, Vitamin D Deficiency, and Steps to Autoimmunity: A Unifying Hypothesis 
Autoimmune Diseases  2012;2012:189096.
CD8+ T-cell deficiency is a feature of many chronic autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren's syndrome, systemic sclerosis, dermatomyositis, primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, psoriasis, vitiligo, bullous pemphigoid, alopecia areata, idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, type 1 diabetes mellitus, Graves' disease, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, myasthenia gravis, IgA nephropathy, membranous nephropathy, and pernicious anaemia. It also occurs in healthy blood relatives of patients with autoimmune diseases, suggesting it is genetically determined. Here it is proposed that this CD8+ T-cell deficiency underlies the development of chronic autoimmune diseases by impairing CD8+ T-cell control of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, with the result that EBV-infected autoreactive B cells accumulate in the target organ where they produce pathogenic autoantibodies and provide costimulatory survival signals to autoreactive T cells which would otherwise die in the target organ by activation-induced apoptosis. Autoimmunity is postulated to evolve in the following steps: (1) CD8+ T-cell deficiency, (2) primary EBV infection, (3) decreased CD8+ T-cell control of EBV, (4) increased EBV load and increased anti-EBV antibodies, (5) EBV infection in the target organ, (6) clonal expansion of EBV-infected autoreactive B cells in the target organ, (7) infiltration of autoreactive T cells into the target organ, and (8) development of ectopic lymphoid follicles in the target organ. It is also proposed that deprivation of sunlight and vitamin D at higher latitudes facilitates the development of autoimmune diseases by aggravating the CD8+ T-cell deficiency and thereby further impairing control of EBV. The hypothesis makes predictions which can be tested, including the prevention and successful treatment of chronic autoimmune diseases by controlling EBV infection.
PMCID: PMC3270541  PMID: 22312480
6.  Autoimmune hepatitis following Epstein–Barr virus infection 
BMJ Case Reports  2008;2008:bcr0620080071.
We describe a case of a young man with autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) following Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) infection, in whom a long follow-up showed favourable outcome with complete clinical recovery and failure to relapse after cessation of immunosuppressive therapy. The study underlines the importance of the differential diagnosis between primary EBV associated hepatitis with features of autoimmunity, in which there is a direct pathogenetic role of the virus, and EBV related AIH, in which EBV could act as the trigger of the immune mediated damage with probable differences between the two conditions with regard to the prognosis and the responsiveness to immunosuppressive treatment. The favourable outcome in our patient, better than most of the AIH cases, may be related both to the moderate necroinflammatory activity and to the low level of fibrosis at the beginning of the disease, or to the role of EBV as a trigger of AIH. The hypothesis that EBV related AIH could have a more favourable prognosis than most of the AIH cases in general needs to be confirmed in a larger series of studies.
PMCID: PMC3124737  PMID: 21716814
7.  Autoimmune hepatitis: new paradigms in the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and management 
Hepatology International  2010;4(2):475-493.
Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), primary biliary cirrhosis, and primary sclerosing cholangitis are the three major autoimmune diseases affecting the liver, and of these three, AIH is the most typical autoimmune disease being characterized by a T-cell-rich infiltrate, raised circulating γ-globulins, autoantibodies, HLA associations, and links with other autoimmune diseases. It is the only one, of the three diseases, that responds well to immunosuppressive therapy. AIH is caused by dysregulation of immunoregulatory networks and the consequent emergence of autoreactive T cells that orchestrate a progressive destruction of hepatocytes leading untreated to liver failure. T cells play a major role in the immunopathogenesis, and both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells are involved together with effector responses mediated by NK cells, γδ T cells, and macrophages. A number of triggering factors have been proposed including viruses, xenobiotics, and drugs, but none have been conclusively shown to be involved in pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2900560  PMID: 20827405
Autoimmune liver disease; Regulatory T cell; Th17; Lymphocytes; Recruitment; Mycophenolate mofetil
8.  Diagnostic utility of IgG and IgM immunohistochemistry in autoimmune liver disease 
AIM: To assess the role of IgM and IgG immunohistochemistry (IHC) in the evaluation of autoimmune liver conditions - autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).
METHODS: Forty one biopsies from untreated patients diagnosed with autoimmune liver disease (AIH, n = 20; PBC, n = 13; PSC, n = 8) and fourteen biopsies of patients with chronic hepatitis C were selected. IgM and IgG-positive plasma cells were counted in each sample.
RESULTS: A predominance of IgG-positive plasma cells was seen in AIH (90% of cases), PSC (75% of cases), and chronic hepatitis C (100% of cases), while IgM-positive plasma cells predominated in PBC (92.8% of cases). The IgM /IgG ratio (< 1 or ≥ 1) accurately distinguished PBC from AIH in 90.9% of cases (sensitivity = 92.3%, specificity = 90%), and PBC from either AIH or PSC in 87.8% of cases (sensitivity = 92.3%, specificity = 85.7%).
CONCLUSION: Plasmacytic infiltrates expressing predominantly IgM are characteristic of PBC, while other forms of liver disease analyzed in this study, including AIH, typically show an IgG-predominant plasma cell infiltrate. Our data indicate that IgM and IgG IHC may be a useful tool when PBC is a diagnostic consideration.
PMCID: PMC2811797  PMID: 20101770
Autoimmune hepatitis; Primary sclerosing cholangitis; Primary biliary cirrhosis; Immunoglobulin; Immunohistochemistry
9.  In situ mass spectrometry of autoimmune liver diseases 
Cellular & molecular immunology  2011;8(3):237-242.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) are the major forms of autoimmune liver diseases each characterized by the destruction of a specific liver cell type and the presence of differing auto-antibodies. We took a proteomic approach utilizing in situ matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI MS) to obtain profiles directly from liver samples of patients with PBC, PSC, AIH and controls. The ability to precisely localize the region for acquisition of MALDI MS allowed us to obtain profiles from bile ducts, inflammatory infiltrates and hepatocytes from each biopsy sample. Analysis tools developed to identify peaks and compare peaks across diseases and cell types were used to develop models to classify the samples. Using an initial set of testing samples from PBC patients and controls, we identified unique peaks present in bile ducts, inflammatory infiltrates and hepatocytes that could classify samples in a validation cohort with 88–91% accuracy. Interestingly, profiles of PSC and AIH did not differ significantly from PBC. Identification of proteins in these peaks may represent novel autoantigens or effector molecules. These findings illustrate the potential of a proteomic approach to autoimmune diseases with in situ MALDI MS.
PMCID: PMC3518928  PMID: 21258365
autoimmune hepatitis; mass spectrometry; primary biliary cirrhosis; primary sclerosing cholangitis
10.  Survival and Clonal Expansion of Mutating “Forbidden” (Immunoglobulin Receptor–Deficient) Epstein-Barr Virus–Infected B Cells in Angioimmunoblastic T Cell Lymphoma 
Angioimmunoblastic lymphadenopathy with dysproteinemia (AILD) is a peculiar T cell lymphoma, as expanding B cell clones are often present besides the malignant T cell clones. In addition, large numbers of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-infected B cells are frequently observed. To analyze the differentiation status and clonal composition of EBV-harboring B cells in AILD, single EBV-infected cells were micromanipulated from lymph nodes of six patients with frequent EBV+ cells and their rearranged immunoglobulin (Ig) genes analyzed. Most EBV-infected B cells carried mutated Ig genes, indicating that in AILD, EBV preferentially resides in memory and/or germinal center B cells. EBV+ B cell clones observed in all six cases ranged from small polyclonal to large monoclonal expansions and often showed ongoing somatic hypermutation while EBV− B cells showed little tendency for clonal expansion. Surprisingly, many members of expanding B cell clones had acquired destructive mutations in originally functional V gene rearrangements and showed an unfavorable high load of replacement mutations in the framework regions, indicating that they accumulated mutations over repeated rounds of mutation and division while not being selected through their antigen receptor. This sustained selection-free accumulation of somatic mutations is unique to AILD. Moreover, the survival and clonal expansion of “forbidden” (i.e., Ig-deficient) B cells has not been observed before in vivo and thus represents a novel type of viral latency in the B cell compartment. It is likely the interplay between the microenvironment in AILD lymph nodes and the viral transformation that leads to the survival and clonal expansion of Ig-less B cells.
PMCID: PMC2193480  PMID: 11581315
B lymphocytes; somatic hypermutation; EBV; immunoglobulin genes; single cell PCR
11.  Reproduction of Epstein-Barr Virus Infection and Pathogenesis in Humanized Mice 
Immune Network  2014;14(1):1-6.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is etiologically associated with a variety of diseases including lymphoproliferative diseases, lymphomas, carcinomas, and autoimmune diseases. Humans are the only natural host of EBV and limited species of new-world monkeys can be infected with the virus in experimental conditions. Small animal models of EBV infection, required for evaluation of novel therapies and vaccines for EBV-associated diseases, have not been available. Recently the development of severely immunodeficient mouse strains enabled production of humanized mice in which human immune system components are reconstituted and express their normal functions. Humanized mice can serve as infection models for human-specific viruses such as EBV that target cells of the immune system. This review summarizes recent studies by the author's group addressing reproduction of EBV infection and pathogenesis in humanized mice.
PMCID: PMC3942502  PMID: 24605074
Epstein-Barr virus; Humanized mouse; Lymphoproliferative disease; Rheumatoid arthritis; Immune response; Persistent infection
12.  Primary biliary cirrhosis-specific autoantibodies in first degree relatives of Greek primary biliary cirrhosis patients 
AIM: To determine the prevalence and significance of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC)-specific autoantibodies in first-degree relatives (FDRs) of Greek PBC patients.
METHODS: The presence of antimitochondrial antibodies (AMA) and PBC-specific antinuclear antibodies (ANA) were determined using indirect immunofluorescence assays, dot-blot assays, and molecularly based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays in 101 asymptomatic for liver-related symptoms FDRs of 44 PBC patients. In order to specify our results, the same investigation was performed in 40 healthy controls and in a disease control group consisting of 40 asymptomatic for liver-related symptoms FDRs of patients with other autoimmune liver diseases namely, autoimmune hepatitis-1 or primary sclerosing cholangitis (AIH-1/PSC).
RESULTS: AMA positivity was observed in 19 (only 4 with abnormal liver function tests) FDRs of PBC patients and none of the healthy controls. The prevalence of AMA was significantly higher in FDRs of PBC patients than in AIH-1/PSC FDRs and healthy controls [18.8%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 12%-28.1% vs 2.5%, 95% CI: 0.1%-14.7%, P = 0.01; 18.8%, 95% CI: 12%-28.1% vs 0%, 95% CI: 0%-10.9%, P = 0.003, respectively]. PBC-specific ANA positivity was observed in only one FDR from a PSC patient. Multivariate analysis showed that having a proband with PBC independently associated with AMA positivity (odds ratio: 11.24, 95% CI: 1.27-25.34, P = 0.03) whereas among the investigated comorbidities and risk factors, a positive past history for urinary tract infections (UTI) was also independently associated with AMA detection in FDRs of PBC patients (odds ratio: 3.92, 95% CI: 1.25-12.35, P = 0.02).
CONCLUSION: In FDRs of Greek PBC patients, AMA prevalence is significantly increased and independently associated with past UTI. PBC-specific ANA were not detected in anyone of PBC FDRs.
PMCID: PMC3442210  PMID: 23002341
Primary biliary cirrhosis; Antimitochondrial antibodies; Anti-gp210; Anti-sp100; Liver autoimmunity
13.  The role of the Epstein–Barr virus in the pathogenesis of some autoimmune disorders – Similarities and differences 
After a brief summary on the properties of the Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), the course and latency stages of the infection, the characteristics of infectious mononucleosis (IM), and other disorders caused by this virus, as well as the course of the serological responses to EBV, the current paper focuses on the role of EBV in two autoimmune disorders: multiple sclerosis (MS), and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Diverse evidence suggests that infection by EBV during late childhood or young adulthood may have a role in the pathogenesis of MS. These include the similarity between the geographical distribution of IMand MS, the high risk of contracting MS by individuals who have recovered from IM, the elevation of the titers of IgG antibodies against EBV nuclear antigens occurring years before the initial manifestations of MS, and the extremely rare occurrence of MS in individuals seronegative for EBV. However, the data on the mechanism underlying the relationship between EBV and MS are controversial. Moreover, many observations indicate that EBV contributes also to the pathomechanism of SLE. However, this contribution differs from the relationship between EBV and MS, as shown by the lack of any increase in the risk of SLE after IM. In SLE, EBV serology is quantitatively and qualitatively different from the normal response – that is, EBV viral load is higher and a strong cross-reaction can be detected between certain EBV antigens and autoantigens of pathological importance. These observations, along with the findings pointing to a possible role of EBV in rheumatoid arthritis and myasthenia gravis indicate that infection by EBV may be one of the environmental factors, which can facilitate the development of some autoimmune disorders in genetically susceptible individuals.
PMCID: PMC3918129  PMID: 24516733
EBV; infectious mononucleosis; multiple sclerosis; SLE
14.  ARFI elastography in patients with chronic autoimmune liver diseases: A preliminary study 
Journal of Ultrasound  2012;15(4):226-231.
Acoustic radiation force impulse (ARFI) is a new software-based technique that evaluates liver stiffness during B-mode ultrasonography. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of ARFI in distinguishing patients with chronic autoimmune liver disease from healthy subjects.
Material and methods
We enrolled 9 adult patients (8 women, 1 man; age 48.1 ± 12.8 years) with chronic autoimmune disease (primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC, n = 3), autoimmune hepatitis (AIH, n = 2), primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC, n = 1) and overlap syndromes, (n = 3) who underwent a liver biopsy and 11 healthy volunteers (age 34.7 ± 10.4 years; 7 women, 4 men). Liver stiffness was evaluated and expressed as the shear wave velocity (SWV) in m/sec. We used a US scanner Siemens-Acuson S2000, evaluating the right liver lobe and the left liver lobe.
The SWV was significantly higher in cases (right lobe: 1.51 ± 0.44; left lobe: 1.57 ± 0.40) than in controls (right lobe: 1.08 ± 0.10; left lobe: 1.12 ± 0.13) (right lobe: P = 0.002; left lobe: P = 0.013). We found no significant correlation between right and left lobe SWVs in cases (P = 0.779) or controls (P = 0.385). The SWV cut-off that best distinguished cases from controls was 1.25 m/sec (accuracy: AUC=0.885; sensitivity: 70.6%; specificity: 95.5%).
ARFI elastography is a noninvasive ultrasonographic technique that can differentiate healthy subjects from patients with fibrotic stages of chronic liver disease.
PMCID: PMC3558243  PMID: 23730386
ARFI imaging; Primary biliary cirrhosis; Autoimmune hepatitis; Primary sclerosing cholangitis
15.  High frequency of autoantibodies in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis that bind biliary epithelial cells and induce expression of CD44 and production of interleukin 6 
Gut  2002;51(1):120-127.
Aim: Sera of patients with autoimmune liver diseases were investigated for the presence of autoantibodies binding to human biliary epithelial cells (BECs). Furthermore, their functional capacity was investigated by testing their capacity to fix complement as well as induce expression of various adhesion molecules and production of cytokines.
Methods: Sera from patients with various stages of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC; n=30), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC; n=29), autoimmune hepatitis (AIH; n=25), and normal controls (n=12) were investigated for the presence of antibodies that reacted with unstimulated and cytokine stimulated BECs isolated from a normal healthy liver. To demonstrate organ specificity, lung epithelial cells (LECs) were used as control cells. Antibodies were tested for their functional capacity.
Results: Compared with controls (8%), significantly higher numbers of PSC patients (63%, p=0.001), but not PBC (37%, NS) or AIH (16%, NS) patients, had anti-BEC antibodies. In 90% of PSC patients, the autoantibodies reacted only with cytokine stimulated target cells. Lower numbers of PSC (6%), PBC (10%), and AIH (0%) patients had LEC antibodies. Other significant findings were that anti-BEC antibodies were found in (i) PSC patients with either the HLA-DRB1*0301 or DR2 allele compared with those without (p=0.007); and (ii) in PBC patients with end stage disease compared with those without (p=0.018). Furthermore, anti-BEC antibodies from PSC and PBC but not AIH patients induced BECs to produce high levels of the cytokine interleukin 6. IgM and IgG fractions isolated from PSC but not PBC and AIH sera induced significantly increased expression of the cell adhesion molecule CD44. Sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and western blot analysis of BEC membranes demonstrated a specific band of 40 kDa with PSC sera and 45, 42, 30, and 33 kDa bands with PBC sera, which were absent in control groups.
Conclusion: Thus for the first time we have demonstrated the presence of functionally important autoantibodies to cell surface expressed antigens on the relevant target cells of destruction, namely BECs, in PSC and PBC. These finding have important implications for the pathogenesis of bile duct destruction in these patients.
PMCID: PMC1773278  PMID: 12077104
autoimmune liver diseases; primary sclerosing cholangitis; primary biliary cirrhosis; adhesion molecules; cytokines
16.  Differential Serum Levels of Eosinophilic Eotaxins in Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, Primary Biliary Cirrhosis, and Autoimmune Hepatitis 
To investigate pathogenic mechanisms of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), and autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), serum levels of 26 chemokines and cytokines were determined and compared with patients with chronic hepatitis C or in healthy controls.
The chemokine eotaxin-3 (E3; CCL26), which recruits eosinophils to sites of inflammation, was found to be highly elevated in all PSC, PBC, and AIH patients compared with HCV patients and healthy controls. Eotaxin-1 (E1; CCL11), another eosinophil-specific chemokine, was elevated in PSC but reduced in PBC and AIH, while the macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC; CCL22) was lower in all PSC, PBC, and AIH patients compared with HCV patients and controls. By incorporating levels of the interleukin (IL)-15 into a diagnostic algorithm, PSC, PBC, and AIH patients could each be differentiated with good sensitivity and specificity. These findings represent the first study to compare the level of serum cytokine/chemokine levels among these related autoimmune-like liver diseases. Furthermore, our data indicate that the measurement of serum E3, E1, CCL22, and IL-15 levels can aid in the diagnosis of these clinically challenging diseases and shed light on the potential pathogenic mechanisms underlying these diseases. By suggesting a potential role for an allergic phenomenon involving eosinophils, which may define them as liver-specific allergic diseases, this may open up potential new therapeutic avenues by abrogating the action of these disease-associated immune modulators.
PMCID: PMC3942695  PMID: 24168449
17.  Tumour necrosis factor α impairs function of liver derived T lymphocytes and natural killer cells in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis 
Gut  2001;49(1):131-141.
BACKGROUND—Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is considered to be a chronic autoimmune disease where infiltrating T lymphocytes have been implicated in the destruction of bile ducts. Altered function of these T cells may reflect abnormalities in the immune response leading to tissue damage.
AIM—We investigated the proliferative and functional capacity of freshly isolated liver derived T lymphocytes (LDLs) and natural killer (NK) cells from PSC patients.
METHODS—The proliferative responses to common mitogens such as phytohaemagglutinin (PHA), concanavalin A (Con A), and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) were studied, and the cytotoxic function of T lymphocytes was measured using allogeneic target cells. NK (CD56+/16+) cytotoxic function was measured using the two cell lines K562 (NK sensitive) and Raji lymphoma cells (NK resistant).
RESULTS—Compared with patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), and normal controls (without liver disease), in PSC: (1) LDLs contained a low percentage of T cells; (2) there was significantly decreased expression of interleukin (IL)-2 receptor (p<0.001) on activated T cells (HLA-DR+); (3) LDLs but not peripheral blood lymphocytes had significantly impaired proliferative responses to mitogens such as PHA, Con A, and LPS (p< 0.001); (4) no cytotoxic activity of PSC liver T and NK cells was recorded; (5) significantly higher levels of tumour necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and IL-1β but lower levels of IL-2, IL-10, and interferon γ were found in the supernatants of mitogen stimulated LDL cultures (p<0.001); (6) higher percentages of freshly isolated PSC LDLs contained intracytoplasmic TNF-α and IL-1β; and (7) pretreatment of PSC LDLs in vitro with neutralising TNF antibodies significantly enhanced proliferative responses and allowed IL-2 receptor expression following stimulation. In addition, the impaired cytolytic activity of both NK and T cells was partially restored. Impaired proliferative or functional capacity of liver derived T cells was not observed in either PBC or AIH patients.
CONCLUSIONS—We suggest that reduced T cell reactivity in liver infiltrating cells obtained from patients with PSC is due to high local production of TNF-α. Our findings indicate that the use of anti-TNF antibodies as an alternative treatment for PSC patients should be evaluated.

Keywords: autoimmune liver diseases; biliary epithelial cells; cytokines
PMCID: PMC1728361  PMID: 11413121
18.  Identification of novel molecules and pathogenic pathways in primary biliary cirrhosis: cDNA array analysis of intrahepatic differential gene expression 
Gut  2001;49(4):565-576.
BACKGROUND—Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is an autoimmune disease in which the pathogenesis of progressive liver injury is poorly understood.
AIM—To provide novel insights into the pathogenesis of PBC related liver injury using cDNA array analysis, which simultaneously examines expression of many genes.
METHODS—Utilising cDNA arrays of 874 genes, PBC was compared with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) associated cirrhosis and non-diseased liver. Differential expression of 10 genes was confirmed by real time quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
RESULTS—Array analysis identified many differentially expressed genes that are important in inflammation, fibrosis, proliferation, signalling, apoptosis, and oxidative stress. PBC was associated with increased expression of both Th1 and Th2 type molecules of the immune response. Fibrosis related gene expression featured upregulation of connective tissue growth factor and transforming growth factor beta3. Many more apoptosis associated molecules exhibited increased expression, consistent with apoptosis being a more active and regulated process, in PSC associated cirrhosis than in PBC. Increased expression of many genes of the Wnt and notch pathways implicated these highly conserved and linked pathways in PBC pathogenesis. The observed increases in expression of c-jun, c-myc, and c-fos related antigen 1 are consistent with increased Wnt pathway activity in PBC. Differential expression of four components of the Wnt pathway, Wnt-5a, Wnt-13, FRITZ, and beta-catenin, was confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR.
CONCLUSION—Many genes implicated in intrahepatic inflammation, fibrosis, and regeneration were upregulated in PBC cirrhosis. In particular, increased expression of a number of Drosophila homologues was seen in PBC.

Keywords: primary sclerosing cholangitis; apoptosis; fibrosis; connective tissue growth factor; Wnt; Th1/Th2; brain derived neurotrophic factor; notch
PMCID: PMC1728487  PMID: 11559656
19.  Rheumatoid Arthritis and Primary Biliary Cirrhosis: Cause, Consequence, or Coincidence? 
Arthritis  2012;2012:391567.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a progressive cholestatic liver disease characterized serologically by cholestasis and the presence of high-titre antimitochondrial antibodies and histologically by chronic nonsuppurative cholangitis and granulomata. PBC patients often have concomitant autoimmune diseases, including arthropathies. This raises the question as to whether there are shared features in the pathogenesis of those diseases with the pathogenesis of PBC. Epidemiological and large case studies have indicated that although the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is not significantly raised in PBC patients, there appears to be a higher rate of RA in PBC patients and their relatives. Genetic studies have demonstrated that several genes implicated in PBC have also been implicated in RA. Epigenetic studies provided a wealth of data regarding RA, but the findings on epigenetic changes in PBC are very limited. As well, certain infectious agents identified in the pathogenesis of PBC may also play a role in the pathogenesis of RA. These data suggest that although RA is not significantly present in PBC, some individuals with certain genetic traits and environmental exposures may develop both conditions. This concept may also apply to other concomitant diseases found in PBC patients.
PMCID: PMC3488395  PMID: 23150824
20.  Epstein-Barr virus: Silent companion or causative agent of chronic liver disease? 
The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has an important and multifaceted role in liver pathology. As a member of the herpes virus family, EBV establishes a persistent infection in more than 90% of adults. Besides acute hepatitis during primary infection, many clinical syndromes of interest for the hepatologist are associated with EBV infection. The role of EBV in the evolution of chronic hepatitis from hepatotropic viruses is considered. Chronic EBV-associated hepatitis is suspected in immunocompetent adults with compatible serology, suggestive histology and detection of the viral genome in the liver and/or increase of specific circulating cytotoxic T-lymphocytes. EBV is the main cause of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders which occur in up to 30% of cases. EBV-driven lymphoproliferative diseases are also recognized in non-immunocompromised patients and liver is involved in up to a third of the cases. Directly implicated in the pathogenesis of different tumors, EBV has a disputable role in hepatocellular carcinoma carcinogenesis. Further research is required in order to establish or reject the role of EBV in human liver cancer. This paper attempts to discuss the range of EBV-associated chronic liver diseases in immunocompetent patients, from mild, self-limiting mononuclear hepatitis to liver cancer.
PMCID: PMC2932915  PMID: 20806428
Epstein-Barr virus; Chronic hepatitis; Liver disease; Chronic active Epstein-Barr virus; Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder; Infectious mononucleosis
21.  Recurrence of cholestatic liver disease after living donor liver transplantation 
End-stage liver disease, due to cholestatic liver diseases with an autoimmune background such as primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), is considered a good indication for liver transplantation. Excellent overall patient and graft outcomes, based mostly on the experience from deceased donor liver transplantation (DDLT), have been reported. Due to the limited number of organ donations from deceased donors in most Asian countries, living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) is the mainstream treatment for end-stage liver disease, including that resulting from PBC and PSC. Although the initial experiences with LDLT for PBC and PSC seem satisfactory or comparable to that with DDLT, some aspects, including the timing of transplantation, the risk of recurrent disease, and its long-term clinical implications, require further evaluation. Whether or not the long-term outcomes of LDLT from a biologically related donor are equivalent to that of DDLT requires further observations. The clinical course following LDLT may be affected by the genetic background shared between the recipient and the living related donor.
PMCID: PMC2743998  PMID: 18777585
Liver transplantation; Primary biliary cirrhosis; Primary sclerosing cholangitis; Living donor; Recurrence
22.  Primary EBV Infection Induces an Expression Profile Distinct from Other Viruses but Similar to Hemophagocytic Syndromes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85422.
Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) causes infectious mononucleosis and establishes lifelong infection associated with cancer and autoimmune disease. To better understand immunity to EBV, we performed a prospective study of natural infection in healthy humans. Transcriptome analysis defined a striking and reproducible expression profile during acute infection but no lasting gene changes were apparent during latent infection. Comparing the EBV response profile to multiple other acute viral infections, including influenza A (influenza), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human rhinovirus (HRV), attenuated yellow fever virus (YFV), and Dengue fever virus (DENV), revealed similarity only to DENV. The signature shared by EBV and DENV was also present in patients with hemophagocytic syndromes, suggesting these two viruses cause uncontrolled inflammatory responses. Interestingly, while EBV induced a strong type I interferon response, a subset of interferon induced genes, including MX1, HERC5, and OAS1, were not upregulated, suggesting a mechanism by which viral antagonism of immunity results in a profound inflammatory response. These data provide an important first description of the response to a natural herpesvirus infection in humans.
PMCID: PMC3894977  PMID: 24465555
23.  Recent Advances on the Possible Neuroprotective Activities of Epstein-Barr Virus Oncogene BARF1 Protein in Chronic Inflammatory Disorders of Central Nervous System  
Current Neuropharmacology  2010;8(3):268-275.
Multiple sclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases in which cells of the central nervous system (CNS) are lost or damaged are rapidly increasing in frequency, and there is neither effective treatment nor cure to impede or arrest their destructive course. The Epstein-Barr virus is a human gamma-herpesvirus that infects more than 90% of the human population worldwide and persisting for the lifetime of the host. It is associated with numerous epithelial cancers, principally undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinoma and gastric carcinoma. Individuals with a history of symptomatic primary EBV infection, called infectious mononucleosis, carry a moderately higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS). It is not known how EBV infection potentially promotes autoimmunity and central nervous system (CNS) tissue damage in MS. Recently it has been found that EBV isolates from different geographic regions have highly conserved BARF1 epitopes. BARF1 protein has the neuroprotective and mitogenic activity, thus may be useful to combat and overcome neurodegenerative disease. BARF1 protein therapy can potentially be used to enhance the neuroprotective activities by combinational treatment with anti-inflammatory antagonists and neuroprotectors in neural disorders.
PMCID: PMC3001219  PMID: 21358976
Epstein-Barr Virus; neuroregeneration; chronic inflammatory disorders; multiple sclerosis.
24.  Induction of Encephalitis in Rhesus Monkeys Infused with Lymphocryptovirus-Infected B-Cells Presenting MOG34–56 Peptide 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71549.
The overlapping epidemiology of multiple sclerosis (MS) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the increased risk to develop MS after infectious mononucleosis (IM) and the localization of EBV-infected B-cells within the MS brain suggest a causal link between EBV and MS. However, the underlying mechanism is unknown. We hypothesize that EBV-infected B-cells are capable of eliciting a central nervous system (CNS) targeting autoimmune reaction. To test this hypothesis we have developed a novel experimental model in rhesus monkeys of IM-like disease induced by infusing autologous B-lymphoblastoid cells (B-LCL). Herpesvirus papio (HVP) is a lymphocryptovirus related to EBV and was used to generate rhesus monkey B-LCL. Three groups of five animals were included; each group received three intravenous infusions of B-LCL that were either pulsed with the encephalitogenic self peptide MOG34–56 (group A), a mimicry peptide (981–1003) of the major capsid protein of cytomegalovirus (CMVmcp981–1003; group B) or the citrullinated MOG34–56 (cMOG34–56; group C). Groups A and B received on day 98 a single immunization with MOG34–56 in incomplete Freund’s adjuvant (IFA). Group C monkeys were euthanized just prior to day 98 without booster immunization. We observed self-peptide-specific proliferation of T-cells, superimposed on similar strong proliferation of CD3+CD8+ T-cells against the B-LCL as observed in IM. The brains of several monkeys contained perivascular inflammatory lesions of variable size, comprising CD3+ and CD68+ cells. Moreover, clusters of CD3+ and CD20+ cells were detected in the meninges. The only evident clinical sign was substantial loss of bodyweight (>15%), a symptom observed both in early autoimmune encephalitis and IM. In conclusion, this model suggests that EBV-induced B-LCL can elicit a CNS targeting inflammatory (auto)immune reaction.
PMCID: PMC3744571  PMID: 23977076
25.  Humoral immune response to EBV in multiple sclerosis is associated with disease activity on MRI 
Neurology  2009;73(1):32-38.
Evidence suggests that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) plays a role in triggering or perpetuating disease activity in multiple sclerosis (MS).
We investigated 100 subjects (50 clinically isolated syndrome [CIS], 25 relapsing-remitting [RR] MS, 25 primary progressive [PP] MS) for 1) evidence of EBV reactivation and 2) disease activity as indicated by serial gadolinium (Gd)-enhanced MRIs over a 5-year period. EBV DNA in blood was quantified by real-time quantitative PCR and EBV serology for anti-Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1) immunoglobulin G (IgG), anti-viral capsid antigen (VCA) IgG, and anti-EBV IgM. Data were analyzed using repeated measures analysis, analysis of variance, and logistic regression analysis.
All subjects had serologic evidence of previous EBV infection, but no lytic reactivation was detected. Significant differences in EBNA-1 IgG titers were found between subgroups, highest in the RRMS cohort compared with PPMS (p < 0.001) and CIS (p < 0.001). Gd-enhancing lesions on MRI correlated with EBNA-1 IgG (r = 0.33, p < 0.001) and EBNA-1:VCA IgG ratio (r = 0.36, p < 0.001). EBNA-1 IgG also correlated with change in T2 lesion volume (r = 0.27, p = 0.044) and Expanded Disability Status Scale score (r = 0.3, p = 0.035).
The correlation between elevated Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1) immunoglobulin G (IgG) and gadolinium-enhancing lesions suggests an association between Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection and multiple sclerosis (MS) disease activity. The heightened immune response to EBV in MS is specifically related to EBNA-1 IgG, a marker of the latent phase of the virus. The lack of association between acute viral reactivation in the peripheral blood and Gd+ lesions suggests a limited role of the former in driving disease activity.
= confidence interval;
= clinically isolated syndrome;
= cytomegalovirus;
= Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen 1;
= Epstein-Barr virus;
= Expanded Disability Status Scale score;
= field of view;
= gadolinium-DTPA;
= human leukocyte antigen;
= immunoglobulin G;
= interleukin;
= interquartile range;
= major histocompatibility complex;
= multiple sclerosis;
= oligoclonal IgG bands;
= odds ratio;
= phocine herpesvirus type 1;
= primary progressive multiple sclerosis;
= relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis;
= echo time;
= repetition time;
= viral capsid antigen;
= varicella zoster virus.
PMCID: PMC2848585  PMID: 19458321

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