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Pediatr Res. 2012 Jun;71(6):638-44. doi: 10.1038/pr.2012.17. Epub 2012 Feb 14.

Combinatory effects of hepatic CD8+ and NK lymphocytes in bile duct injury from biliary atresia.

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  • 1Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Children's Hospital, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, People's Republic of China.



To our knowledge, elucidating the immune pathogenesis of disease, especially characteristic T-cell and natural killer (NK) cell expansions, has not been performed before now. We investigated the role of T lymphocytes and NK lymphocytes in the destruction of extrahepatic bile ducts of patients with biliary atresia.


Lymphocytes from the liver and extrahepatic bile duct remnants of patients with biliary atresia were characterized by immunofluorescence staining, fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis, and real-time reverse-transcriptase PCR. Cholangiocyte lysis assays were performed to confirm cytotoxicity of activated hepatic NK lymphocytes or CD8(+) cells.


The inflammatory milieu from portal tracts and/or biliary remnants consisted of greater numbers of Kupffer cells, T lymphocytes, and NK lymphocytes in the patients with biliary atresia as compared with the cholestatic and noncholestatic controls. In patients with biliary atresia, expression of NK or CD8+ costimulatory molecules was upregulated as compared with controls. Hepatic NK lymphocytes or CD8(+) cells from patients with biliary atresia were demonstrated to be cytotoxic to the duct epithelium.


Specific immune responses from NK and CD8(+) cells were involved in the injury to the duct epithelium and play a significant role in the phenotype of experimental biliary atresia.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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