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PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31822. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031822. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

Cytokine profiles, CTL response and T cell frequencies in the peripheral blood of acute patients and individuals recovered from hepatitis E infection.

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Hepatitis Group, National Institute of Virology, Pune, India.



Hepatitis E is a major public health problem in the developing countries. Pathogenesis of hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is poorly understood.


This case-control study included 124 Hepatitis E patients (46 acute and 78 recovered), 9 with prior exposure to HEV and 71 anti-HEV negative healthy controls. HEV induced CTL response by Elispot, cytokines/chemokines quantitation by Milliplex assay and peripheral CD4+ & CD8+ T cell frequencies by flow cytometry were assessed.


Among the patient categories, HEV specific IFN-γ responses as recorded by Elispot were comparable. Comparisons of cytokines/chemokines revealed significantly high levels of IL-1α and sIL-2Rα during acute phase. Circulating peripheral CD4/CD8+ T-cell subsets in acute and recovered individuals were comparable compared to controls, while among patient categories CD8+T cell subset was significantly higher in recovered individuals.


Our findings suggest that IL-1α and sIL-2Rα play a role in the pathogenesis of acute Hepatitis E infection. Lack of robust HEV ORF2-specific CTL response in the peripheral blood of HEV infected patients during the acute and recovered phases of the disease may be associated with involvement of innate immune cells/localization of the immune events at the site of infection.

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