Send to

Choose Destination
J Infect Dis. 2019 Feb 15;219(5):750-759. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiy576.

Interleukin 21 Reinvigorates the Antiviral Activity of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)-Specific CD8+ T Cells in Chronic HBV Infection.

Author information

State Key Laboratory of Organ Failure Research, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Viral Hepatitis Research, Department of Infectious Diseases and Hepatology Unit, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China.
Department of Hepatology, Huizhou Municipal Central Hospital, Guangzhou, China.
Department of Infectious Diseases and Hepatology Unit, Huadu District People's Hospital of Guangzhou, Guangzhou, China.
Liver Disease Research Center, 458th Hospital of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Guangzhou, China.



Strategies that target functional recovery of exhausted hepatitis B virus (HBV)-specific CD8+ T cells are beneficial for viral control, but the potential for interleukin 21 (IL-21) to rescue CD8+ T-cell function is not well understood.


We investigated the effect of IL-21 on CD8+ T-cell responses by phenotypic and functional analysis of samples from patients with chronic HBV infection and a mouse model with HBV expression.


IL-21 promoted the proliferative capacity of HBV-specific CD8+ T cells and down-regulated expression of the inhibitory receptors programmed death 1 and T-cell immunoglobulin domain and mucin domain 3. Additionally, IL-21 boosted the production of interferon-γ, granzyme B, and CD107a in HBV-specific CD8+ T cells and enhanced the cytolytic activity of CD8+ T cells against HepG2.2.15 cells. Notably, an HBV mouse model established from IL-21 receptor knockout mice showed significantly decreased frequency of HBV-specific CD8+ T cells and increased levels of serum hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). Meanwhile, administration of recombinant mouse IL-21 in an HBV mouse model established from wild-type mice resulted in enhanced functionality of HBV-specific CD8+ T cells and accelerated HBsAg clearance.


IL-21 enhances the antiviral effect of HBV-specific CD8+ T cells, suggesting that it may contribute to viral clearance in chronic HBV infection.


CD8+ T cells; hepatitis B virus; interleukin 21


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center