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J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014 Aug;29(8):1629-36. doi: 10.1111/jgh.12606.

Serum cytokine/chemokine profiles in acute exacerbation of chronic hepatitis B: clinical and mechanistic implications.

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  • 1Graduate Institute of Clinical Medicine, National Taiwan University College of Medicine and National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan; Hepatitis Research Center, National Taiwan University College of Medicine and National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.



Acute exacerbation (AE) of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is common and negatively impacts the clinical outcome. Although upsurge of viral load always precedes or coincides with AE, the underlying immunological mechanisms remain unclear and were investigated.


We prospectively followed the serum cytokine/chemokine profiles, viral load, and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels in 250 patients and identified 44 consecutive patients (male: 72.7%; age: 40.4 ± 9.7 years; hepatitis B e antigen [HBeAg] positivity: 63.6%; genotype B/C: 75%/25%) who developed AE during the follow-up in a medical center. The impact of clinical characteristics (age, gender, HBeAg, ALT, HBV genotype), cytokines (tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interferon gamma, interleukin [IL]-2, IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10), and chemokines (CXCL10/interferon gamma-induced protein [IP]-10, CCL2/MCP-1, CXCL9/MIG, CCL5/RANTES, and CXCL8/IL-8) on the serum HBV DNA dynamics at different time points (baseline, peak of serum HBV DNA level, peak of serum ALT level, and after AE) were analyzed.


Of 44 patients, serum HBV DNA level surged before the peak of serum ALT level in 23 (52.3%), and coincided with the peak of ALT in 21 (47.7%). The upsurge of serum viral load significantly correlated with the increase of IL-10 (P = 0.0037) and CXCL10/IP-10 (P = 0.0044). Upsurge of serum viral load was preceded by an increase in serum IL-4 (P < 0.05), IL-6 (P < 0.05), and IL-10 (P < 0.05). Combination of HBV genotype, IL-6 level at baseline, and ALT level at the peak of serum HBV DNA reliably predicted subsequent AE pattern (P = 0.0116).


Enhanced Th2 activity is likely involved in the surge of HBV DNA level before hepatitis exacerbation.

© 2014 Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Foundation and Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.


acute exacerbation; chemokine; cytokine; hepatitis B

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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