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1.  Expression of CD39 on FoxP3+ T regulatory cells correlates with progression of HBV infection 
BMC Immunology  2012;13:17.
Although it is known that regulatory T cells (Tregs) can suppress the function of effector T cells, and may contribute to impaired immune response, the precise role of Tregs during the course of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection remains to be elucidated. A newly identified subset of the CD4+Foxp3+ Tregs, the CD39+ Tregs, has been associated with viral infections and autoimmune diseases. Therefore, we hypothesized that this discrete Treg subset may contribute to the chronic infection of HBV.
Initial characterization studies of healthy peripheral CD39+FoxP3+CD4+ T cells revealed that the majority were CD45RA- Treg cells. Subsequent analysis of HBV-infected patients (38 asymptomatic HBV carriers (AsCs), 37 chronic active hepatitis B (CAH), 29 HBV-associated acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF)) and healthy individuals (25 controls) was conducted to assess association with HBV copy number and the liver injury marker alanine aminotransferase (ALT). A higher percentage of CD39+ Tregs was detected within the population of FoxP3+CD4+ T cells in peripheral blood of AsCs patients. Moreover, the percentage of CD39+ Tregs was significantly less in CAH and ACLF patients. The increased proportions of circulating CD39+ Tregs were positively correlated with serum viral load, but inversely correlated with serum ALT level.
These findings not only suggest that CD39+ Treg cells may be involved in HBV disease progression but also identify CD39+ Tregs as a dynamic immune regulatory cell population that may represent a new target of immunomodulatory therapeutic interventions.
PMCID: PMC3364870  PMID: 22489829
Hepatitis B; CD39; Regulatory T lymphocyte
2.  Activated IL-23/IL-17 pathway closely correlates with increased Foxp3 expression in livers of chronic hepatitis B patients 
BMC Immunology  2011;12:25.
Foxp3 protein plays a critical role in mediating the inflammatory response and can inhibit the proinflammatory IL-23/IL-17 pathway. However, the molecular interplay of Foxp3 and the IL-23/IL-17 pathway in patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) remains unclear. To this end, we analyzed the expression patterns of Foxp3- and IL-23/IL-17 pathway-related proinflammatory cytokines in 39 patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure, 71 patients with CHB and 32 healthy controls.
Foxp3 expression was found to be elevated in and mainly expressed by the CD4+ T cell sub-population of peripheral blood mononuclear cells and liver tissues of patients with hepatitis B. The intrahepatic expression of Foxp3 strongly correlated with the copies of HBV DNA and the concentration of surface antigen, HBsAg. IL-23/IL-17 pathway-related proinflammatory cytokines were also found to be significantly increased in patients' liver tissues, as compared to healthy controls. Moreover, Foxp3 expression was strikingly correlated with the production of these cytokines in liver tissues of CHB patients.
The closely-correlated increase of Foxp3 and IL-23/IL-17 pathway activity in HBV-infected livers suggests that the proinflammatory IL-23/IL-17 pathway had not been effectively suppressed by the host immune machinery, such as Treg (Foxp3) cells. Constitutive activation of the IL-23/17 pathway, thus, may support the chronic hepatitis B state.
PMCID: PMC3094328  PMID: 21489307
Treg; Foxp3; Th17; IL-23; IL-17; Hepatitis B
3.  Identification of a novel conserved HLA-A*0201-restricted epitope from the spike protein of SARS-CoV 
BMC Immunology  2009;10:61.
The spike (S) protein is a major structural glycoprotein of coronavirus (CoV), the causal agent of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The S protein is a potent target for SARS-specific cell-mediated immune responses. However, the mechanism CoV pathogenesis in SARS and the role of special CTLs in virus clearance are still largely uncharacterized. Here, we describe a study that leads to the identification of a novel HLA-A*0201-restricted epitope from conserved regions of S protein.
First, different SARS-CoV sequences were analyzed to predict eight candidate peptides from conserved regions of the S protein based upon HLA-A*0201 binding and proteosomal cleavage. Four of eight candidate peptides were tested by HLA-A*0201 binding assays. Among the four candidate peptides, Sp8 (S958-966, VLNDILSRL) induced specific CTLs both ex vivo in PBLs of healthy HLA-A2+ donors and in HLA-A2.1/Kb transgenic mice immunized with a plasmid encoding full-length S protein. The immunized mice released IFN-╬│ and lysed target cells upon stimulation with Sp8 peptide-pulsed autologous dendritic cells in comparison to other candidates.
These results suggest that Sp8 is a naturally processed epitope. We propose that Sp8 epitope should help in the characterization of mechanisms of virus control and immunopathology in SARS-CoV infection.
PMCID: PMC2792222  PMID: 19958537

Results 1-3 (3)