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Dig Dis. 2010;28(1):63-9. doi: 10.1159/000282066. Epub 2010 May 7.

Adaptive immunity in autoimmune hepatitis.

Author information

1
Institute of Liver Studies, King's College London School of Medicine at King's College Hospital, London, UK.

Abstract

The histological lesion of interface hepatitis, with its dense portal cell infiltrate consisting of lymphocytes, monocytes/macrophages and plasma cells, was the first to suggest an autoaggressive cellular immune attack in the pathogenesis of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH). Immunohistochemical studies, focused on the phenotype of inflammatory cells infiltrating the liver parenchyma, have shown a predominance of alphabeta-T cells. Amongst these cells, the majority have been CD4 helper/inducers, while a sizeable minority have consisted of CD8 cytotoxic/suppressors. Lymphocytes on non-T cell lineage included natural killer cells, monocytes/macrophages and B lymphocytes. For autoimmunity to arise, the self-antigenic peptide, embraced by an human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II molecule, must be presented to an uncommitted T helper (T(H)0) lymphocyte by professional antigen-presenting cells. Once activated and according to the presence in the milieu of interleukin 12 (IL-12) or IL-4, T(H)0 lymphocytes can differentiate into T(H)1 cells, which are pivotal to macrophage activation; enhance HLA class I expression, rendering liver cells vulnerable to CD8 T-cell attack; and induce HLA class II expression on hepatocytes; or they can differentiate into T(H)2 cells, which produce IL-4, IL-10 and IL-13, cytokines favouring autoantibody production by B lymphocytes. Autoantigen recognition is tightly controlled by regulatory mechanisms, such as those exerted by CD4+CD25(high) regulatory T cells. Numerical and functional regulatory T cell impairment characterises AIH and permits the perpetuation of effector immune responses with ensuing persistent liver destruction. Advances in the study of autoreactive T cells stem mostly from AIH type 2, where the main autoantigen, cytochrome P450IID6 (CYP2D6), is known to enable characterisation of antigen-specific immune responses.

PMID:
20460892
DOI:
10.1159/000282066
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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