Send to

Choose Destination
J Infect Dis. 2015 Apr 15;211(8):1268-78. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiu599. Epub 2014 Oct 31.

Kupffer cells interact with hepatitis B surface antigen in vivo and in vitro, leading to proinflammatory cytokine production and natural killer cell function.

Author information

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands Division of Gastroenterology, Liver Clinic University Health Network, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Based on their localization, Kupffer cells (KCs) likely interact with hepatitis B virus (HBV). However, the role of KCs in inducing immunity toward HBV is poorly understood. Therefore, the interaction of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and KCs, and possible functional consequences, were assessed.


KCs in liver tissue from patients with chronic HBV were analyzed for presence of HBsAg and their phenotype, and compared with KCs in control liver tissue. Liver graft perfusate-derived KCs and in vitro-generated monocyte-derived macrophages were investigated for functional interaction with patient-derived HBsAg.


Intrahepatic KCs were HBsAg positive and more activated than those from control livers. KCs internalized HBsAg in vitro, which did not change their phenotype, but strongly induced proinflammatory cytokine production. Additionally, monocyte-derived macrophages also interacted with HBsAg, leading to activation and cytokine production. Furthermore, HBsAg-exposed macrophages and KC activated natural killer (NK) cells, resulting in increased CD69 expression and interferon-γ production.


KCs directly interact with HBsAg in vivo and in vitro. HBsAg-induced cytokine production by KCs and monocyte-derived macrophages and subsequent NK cell activation may be an early event in viral containment and may support induction of HBV-specific immunity upon HBV infection, but may also contribute to liver pathology.


HBV; HBsAg; Kupffer cells; innate immunity; macrophages

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center