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J Hepatol. 2002 Oct;37(4):514-22.

Decrease in CD3-negative-CD8dim(+) and Vdelta2/Vgamma9 TcR+ peripheral blood lymphocyte counts, low perforin expression and the impairment of natural killer cell activity is associated with chronic hepatitis C virus infection.

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  • 1Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Pécs, Pécs, Hungary



As chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with impaired natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity, we examined the phenotypes and perforin expression of peripheral blood lymphocytes, as well as the effect of interferon-alpha2b (IFN-alpha2b) therapy.


Thirty-three patients had chronic hepatitis C, and of them 12 had been on IFN-alpha2b treatment. Eleven individuals had been treated earlier with IFN-alpha2b and completely cured, and eight were HCV carriers with persistently normal serum alanine aminotransferase. Three-colour flow cytometry was used to measure the percentage of CD3(+/-)CD8+, CD3+CD4+, gammadeltaTcR+, Vdelta2 TcR+, Vgamma9 TcR+, Vdelta1 TcR+, CD3-CD16+, CD3-CD56+, CD19+ and perforin-positive cells. NK cell activity was assessed by single cell cytotoxic and flow cytometric assay.


Patients with chronic hepatitis C showed an impaired NK cytotoxicity, decreased percentage of CD3-negative-CD8dim-positive (NK subtype) and Vgamma9/Vdelta2 TcR+ as well as perforin-positive T lymphocytes, compared to controls and to those who were cured from HCV infection. IFN-alpha2b increased NK cell cytotoxicity and the percentage of perforin-positive lymphocytes.


Our findings suggest that in chronic HCV infection a decreased percentage of CD3(-)CD8+, Vgamma9/Vdelta2 TcR+ and perforin-positive T cells and simultaneous decreased peripheral NK activity may contribute to the impaired cellular immune response and the chronicity of the disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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