Immune cells and molecules play a vital role in initiating, maintaining, regulating immunological homeostasis and inflammation in many pathological and physiological processes; however, the changes on expressions and functions of these cells and molecules in hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection have not been elucidated well.
The current study aimed to determine the expression pattern of different cytokines, chemokines, immune cells in HBV infection and their association with disease progression.
Patients and Methods:
Sixty-nine patients with chronic HBV infection were enrolled. Five immune cell subsets and 46 cytokines and chemokines were analyzed by flow cytometry and Luminex 200.
In comparison to healthy individuals and asymptomatic HBV carriers, expression of CXCL9, CXCL10, CXCL11, and IL-10 were elevated in patients with chronic active HBV and had positive correlation with ALT levels. In contrast, G-CSF, MCP-3, and IFN-γ levels were significantly decreased in patients with chronic active HBV infection in contrast to carriers and healthy individuals; however, these down regulations did not show any correlation with either virological findings or liver inflammation. Although the proportion of CD4+ CD25 high regulatory T cells (Tregs) was higher in patients with HBV infection than in healthy controls, no correlations were found between Tregs and other cytokines or chemokines.
CXCR3-associated chemokines might contribute to liver inflammation in chronic hepatitis B, while MCP-3 and G-CSF were inhibited by HBV infection. Host immune response was suppressed as manifested by an increase in CD4+ CD25high Tregs and IL-10 as well as a decrease in IFN-γ. Exploiting the expression pattern of cytokine and chemokine may help to develop a better understanding of chronic HBV infection pathogenesis.