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Am J Pathol. 2006 Apr;168(4):1169-78; quiz 1404-5.

Kupffer cell-dependent hepatitis occurs during influenza infection.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Ave., Box 626, Rochester, NY 14642-8609, USA.


Respiratory infections, including influenza in humans, are often accompanied by a hepatitis that is usually mild and self-limiting. The mechanism of this kind of liver damage is not well understood. In the present study, we show that influenza-associated hepatitis occurs due to the formation of inflammatory foci that include apoptotic hepatocytes, antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells, and Kupffer cells. Serum aminotransaminase levels were elevated, and both the histological and serum enzyme markers of hepatitis were increased in secondary influenza infection, consistent with a primary role for antigen-specific T cells in the pathogenesis. No virus could be detected in the liver, making this a pure example of "collateral damage" of the liver. Notably, removal of the Kupffer cells prevented the hepatitis. Such hepatic collateral damage may be a general consequence of expanding CD8(+) T-cell populations during many extrahepatic viral infections, yielding important implications for liver pathobiology.

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