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Hepatology. 1998 Jun;27(6):1600-6.

Expression of co-stimulatory molecules by Kupffer cells in chronic hepatitis of hepatitis C virus etiology.

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Fondazione Andrea Cesalpino and Instituto di Clinica Medica 1, Università La Sapienza, Roma, Italy.


In this paper we show that in viral hepatitis most Kupffer cells (KCs) are activated and express high levels of CD80, CD40, and class-II MHC molecules, thus acquiring the phenotype of professional antigen presenting cells (APCs). Activated KCs display a close contact with CD4+ T lymphocytes and form KCs-T lymphocyte clusters. Clusters are found within the sinusoids, across the sinusoid wall, and within the liver parenchyma as well, as a consequence of transendothelial migration (TEM). The positivity of activated KCs for hepatitis C virus (HCV) antigens, which likely reflects phagocytosis of infected hepatocytes, suggests that KCs-T cell clusters represent the morphological expression of the functional interaction between KCs acting as professional APCs and antigen-experienced CD4+ T lymphocytes within the liver. These phenotypic and morphological changes are distinct features of livers in chronic hepatitis patients compared with controls.

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