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J Autoimmun. 2005 Aug;25(1):63-71.

Effect of CD4+ CD25+ regulatory T-cells on CD8 T-cell function in patients with autoimmune hepatitis.

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Institute of Liver Studies, King's College London, King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5 9RS, UK.



CD4 T lymphocytes constitutively expressing the IL-2-receptor alpha-chain (CD25) (T-regs) are central to self-tolerance maintenance, preventing the proliferation and effector function of autoreactive T-cells. In autoimmune hepatitis T-regs are defective in number but maintain the ability to suppress IFNgamma production by CD4+CD25- T-cells. We have studied the ability of CD4+CD25+ (T-regs) to regulate proliferation and cytokine production by CD8 T-cells in patients with autoimmune hepatitis at diagnosis and during remission.


Twenty-five patients were studied. T-regs were purified from PBMCs by CD4 negative selection followed by CD25 positive selection, using immunomagnetic beads. The ability of T-regs to suppress CD8 T-cell proliferation was assessed by 3H-thymidine incorporation; their ability to regulate cytokine production by intracellular cytokine staining.


We found that T-regs are unable to regulate CD8 T-cell proliferation and cytokine production in patients studied at diagnosis, while they suppress CD8 T-cell proliferation and induce an elevation of IL-4 producing CD8 T-cells in patients during drug-induced remission.


Inability of T-regs to regulate CD8 T-cell function at diagnosis may contribute to the initiation of autoimmune liver damage. The ability of T-regs to regulate CD8 proliferation and IL-4 production during drug-induced remission suggests a role for immunosuppressive treatment at reconstituting T-regs function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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