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J Immunol. 1997 Jun 1;158(11):5283-91.

Perforin, Fas/Fas ligand, and TNF-alpha pathways as specific and bystander killing mechanisms of hepatitis C virus-specific human CTL.

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Hepatology Division, Jichi Medical School, Kawachi-gun, Tochigi, Japan.


In chronic hepatitis C, Fas expression is up-regulated in the hepatocytes, especially near liver-infiltrating lymphocytes, and Fas ligand is expressed on the lymphocytes. The presence of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific CTLs has been demonstrated both in peripheral blood and among liver-infiltrating lymphocytes of patients with chronic hepatitis C. We studied the killing mechanisms of HCV-specific human CTLs using target cells that were sensitive or resistant to agonistic anti-Fas Abs and TNF-alpha. We show that HCV-specific CTL clones kill non-Ag-bearing bystander cells as well as Ag-bearing cells, although the bystander killing is less efficient than the specific target cell killing, and the efficacy of the bystander killing of anti-Fas- and soluble TNF-alpha-sensitive cells is greater than that of resistant cells. We also show that the killing of Ag-presenting, sensitive cells is mediated by Fas ligand and TNF-alpha as well as perforin, although the latter plays a major role in the killing at a low E:T ratio, and that the killing of sensitive bystander cells is primarily mediated by Fas ligand and TNF-alpha on CTLs expressed upon specific Ag stimulation, which may be relevant to the bystander lysis by HCV-specific CTLs of uninfected hepatocytes, in which Fas expression is up-regulated. Activated CTLs also kill bystander cells by the perforin-based mechanism, although it requires a high E:T ratio. The effective bystander killing requires a close intercellular contact between CTLs and target cells, although TNF-alpha released from the CTLs mediates lysis of the bystander cells without a close cell-cell contact.

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